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Virginia Could Lift Uranium Mining Ban

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 20, 2012

Could Virginia’s 30-year-long ban on uranium mining finally be lifted next year? It looks like the question will be foremost when the new General Assembly convenes next year on January 9.

The ban has been in place since 1983, riding on concerns of environmental contamination and radioactive fears. However, Virginia Uranium Inc. is aiming to overthrow the ban and begin mining and developing uranium near Chatham.

The location is extremely lucrative as it may hold the world’s biggest reserves of uranium. And, of course, there’s the ever-attractive job-creation argument that goes with such proposals.

But the skewed refinement ratio of uranium remains a major concern. According to the Martinsville Bulletin, Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) points out that for every 2,000 pounds of mined materials, just about a pound would be viable uranium. This creates the major problem—massive amounts of radioactive waste.

The concern is echoed by others, as well. At the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s yearly Pre-legislative Breakfast, various lawmakers emphasized the need for an assessment of the risk factors.

From the Martinsville Bulletin:

“I could live with the mine” itself, [Del. Don] Merricks said. “The problem is the stuff that’s left” after mining occurs, essentially “forever.”