KLPW – Uranium Mining Upstream from Kerr Lake

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VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER RELEASES STORY ON NEW RESEARCH REPORT ON URANIUM MINING

KLPW  has previously brought the Virginia Uranium mining issue to KLPW members and was sent this first seen media report on a new research report authorized by the Roanoke River Basin Association (RRBA). RRBA has sent a full copy of the 25-page report and KLPW will be glad to send you your copy via email.  Just send a request to info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org or you may visit www.rrba.org.

FROM AN ONLINE NEWS REPORT FROM THE NEWS ADVANCE & “GO DAN RIVER

BY MARY BETH JACKSON


The Roanoke River Basin Association released the final report of Paul Robinson — a 26-page report that reiterates the concerns of the preliminary report the group issued in June.


Robinson, the research director of the Southwest Research and Information Center, reviewed records of the Virginia Department of Mines, Mineral and Energy for the report, prepared for the RRBA. He says there is a lack of sufficient public and governmental oversight of uranium exploration in Virginia.



The report alleges that Virginia is flying blind on uranium exploration, that the few requirements in place have not been enforced, and that VUI has failed to comply with what little is required.


In a release, RRBA President Gene Addesso said the study raises troubling questions.


“ This leads us to question how DMME could be expected to take on the regulatory responsibility of large scale uranium mining on thousands of acres in the headwaters of the Banister River,” he said.


Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to mine a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit six miles from Chatham. The company has been pressing the state to lift the 1983 moratorium on uranium mining, but in 2007, it received a permit to drill 40 exploratory holes on the Coles Hill property.


In June, Virginia Uranium issued a rebuttal to Robinson’s initial report.


“ Virginia Uranium, Inc. is in full compliance with the requirements of our permit, which we have held since 2007,” the company stated in its release. “The company has never received a single notice of violation or citation from the DMME related to inadequate of insufficient information or documentation associated with our permit nor have we ever received a health and safety or environmental violation or citation for activities at our site.”


But Monday’s report reiterates claims that Virginia was flying blind when it authorized Virginia Uranium to do test borings in 2007.


Those test borings were used by the company to help further define the ore body at Coles Hills and make measurements of the amount and quality of the ore underneath the pastoral farmland.


Robinson’s report says the DMME has failed to create rules and regulations for uranium exploration as required in Virginia law.


“ The statute does not appear to allow permitting of uranium exploration without such rules and regulations being in place,” Robinson wrote. “If that is the case, DMME issuance of VUI’s permit was contrary to law the permit should be revoked.”


The Southwest Research and Information Center works with community groups to provide technical assistance on environmental and resource development issues. One of its facets is a uranium assessment program.


Mary Beth Jackson reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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URANIUM ISSUE…Sleeping…But Not Dead



Radio advertising AGAINST and now FOR allowing Uranium mining in Virginia is blaring out all over the state as forces on both sides refuse to give in on whether Governor Bob McDonnell should sidestep the Virginia legislature and move to allow mining the radioactive material at Coles Hill.

KLPW is watching the issue intensely because of the huge impact such mining could potentially have on the John H Kerr Reservoir and ultimately on lake and park users. Within the last few days, 
Tim Davis, the Editor of the Star-Tribune put together this perspective that KLPW thought worthy of your reading. |
 


Southside Virginia lawmakers urged Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to respect the legislative process and not move forward on developing regulations on uranium mining during a meeting Friday in Richmond.


Delegates Danny Marshall, Don Merricks, James Edmunds, Tommy Wright and Sen. Frank Ruff requested the meeting after a bill on uranium mining was pulled from a Senate committee in January.


Sen. John Watkins withdrew SB 1354 from Virginia’s Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee, where it faced certain doom, but called on the governor to direct state agencies to draft a permitting process for uranium mining anyway.


Virginia placed a moratorium on uranium mining in 1982 following discovery in the late 1970s of a huge deposit in Pittsylvania County.


In 2007, the two families that own the Coles Hill, Va. deposit along with other investors formed Virginia Uranium Inc. in hopes of eventually lifting the 31-year ban and mining the $7 billion lode.


Despite Watkins’ statement when the bill was pulled, the governor told Southside legislators he has not received any request to move forward on uranium mining regulations, Marshall said.


“This is not on his radar screen right now,” said the Danville delegate, noting the governor is focused on education and transportation.


Nevertheless, Southside lawmakers are worried uranium could come up even after the session ends Friday.


“The governor has the authority to move the football forward,” Marshall said. “We asked him to respect the legislative process.”


Marshall also urged the governor to take into account opposition to uranium mining from the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, Danville City Council, Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce and others.


“We have to live here,” he said.


Merricks said the governor kept a good “poker face” on uranium.


“I don’t know that we know much more than before the meeting,” Merricks said. “I don’t think he has any intention of doing anything right now. He’s not going to do anything behind our backs. He’s a good guy.”


Even if the state develops regulations on uranium mining, the General Assembly would have to vote to enact a new statute, the delegate said.


Merricks said it’s a classic “chicken and egg” riddle, with Virginia Uranium claiming regulations are needed to tailor a mining plan to protect public health and the environment.


Merricks believes legislators should vote on whether to lift the moratorium before developing permits.


“Why go through the expense and time of developing regulations if you are not going to mine?” he said.


Ruff said McDonnell promised not to use the budget process or a new nuclear consortium bill to get around legislators on the uranium issue.


“He made the statement that science and technology do advance, and, therefore, he would not commit into the future,” the senator said. “He did, however, assure us that before he takes any action in the future he will have further discussions.”


Spokesman Patrick Wales said Virginia Uranium is committed to the safe development of the Coles Hill deposit about six miles northeast of Chatham.


“The jobs, investment and economic prosperity our project offers are an unprecedented opportunity for our community, region and commonwealth,” Wales said in a recent statement.


According to studies, the proposed uranium mine and mill would create more than 1,000 jobs and have an annual economic impact of $135 million.


Wales said moving forward with regulations would answer many of the remaining questions about uranium mining and “foster comfort with this promising industry and confidence in its safety.”


Marshall and Merricks said the region may have a “reprieve” from uranium mining this year, but the issue is far from dead.


“Next year it will come back. It will always come back,” Merricks said.





Tim Davis is editor of the Star-Tribune in Chatham, Va. – Kerr Lake Park Watch will continue to monitor and inform members about this volatile issue.

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NO PARTY YET! Virginia Senate Panel Kills Consideration of Lifting Uranium Mining Ban – Governor Now Considering

Kerr Lake Park Watch is refraining from rejoicing about a Virginia State Senate panel dumping legislation to lift the ban on Uranium mining at Coles Hill near Chatham, Virginia.  “The problem is that while everyone is celebrating about that Senate panel saying no, politics has shifted the decision and maybe even the power to lift the Uranium mining ban in Virginia to the Governor,” said Kerr Lake Park Watch Public Affairs Lead, Frank Timberlake. 

“We are still concerned about future contamination of Kerr Lake should the ban be lifted by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell,” added Timberlake whose group joined the Roanoke River Basin Association in opposing the Uranium mining project that is upstream from Kerr Lake.  “We have heard several stories and this Associated Press account sums up the current situation pretty good.”

Associated Press –




Gov. Bob McDonnell has become the sole focus of the tug-of-war over uranium mining in Virginia now that the sponsor of a House bill that would establish mining regulations agreed to drop his legislation.


Delegate Jackson Miller said he’s asked the chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, Delegate Terry Kilgore, to not bring forward his legislation, meaning it will likely sit in committee past crossover day on Tuesday. Legislation that has a chance of passing must move from one chamber to the other by that day.




“He said if that’s my wish, he’s happy to do that,” Miller, R-Manassas, said Friday.

Sen. John Watkins, a Powhatan Republican, is the leading advocate of uranium mining in the General Assembly. He withdrew his version of the legislation on Thursday with it facing almost certain defeat in committee and on the floor of the Senate. Watkins then asked McDonnell to direct state agencies to draw up regulations for the mining


The actions by Watkins and Miller shift what was expected to be a bruising battle in the General Assembly to squarely on McDonnell’s shoulders. A spokesman said Friday the governor’s position remained unchanged: he’s still reviewing the issue.


Anti-mining activists who had been targeting key legislators with emails and telephone calls are now turning their lobbying effort to McDonnell. His office received dozens of calls by noon Friday, spokesman J. Tucker Martin said.


McDonnell’s indecision has been curious for a Republican governor who has promoted U.S. energy independence and who has advocated an “all of the above” approach to achieve that _ from coal to offshore oil and winds.


Cale Jaffe, director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, briefed McDonnell in December and was “impressed by his willingness to dig into the details of the issue” and his thoughtful questions.


“At this point, the studies have been done, and those studies _ particularly the peer-review National Academy of Sciences Study _ have validated a lot of our core concerns,” Jaffe wrote in an email. “The science has shed a lot of light on this issue.”


With the Legislature clearly not inclined to endorse uranium mining in Southside Virginia, the company that wants to tap the deposit endorsed what it called Watkins’ “alternative path” to the governor’s office.


“The legislation presented this year was lengthy and complex, but even so, did not address every detail that would ultimately be included in fully promulgated regulations,” Patrick Wales, project manager for Virginia Uranium Inc., said in a statement.


The matter will still have to return to the General Assembly for approval, but not this year.


Watkins, who expressed similar sentiments in spiking his bill, has questioned McDonnell’s silence on the issue. Miller said he has discussed the matter with the governor.


“He tells me he’s evaluating it,” he said. “I take him at his word. He doesn’t really like to say much more than that.”


Miller denied that the appeal to the governor is a back door effort to move uranium mining forward, as opponents have said. “They do stuff like this all the time _ Republican governors, Democratic governors.”


Virginia Uranium is seeking an end to a state prohibition on uranium mining that dates back three decades. It requires that regulations be in place. The company wants to mine a 119-million-pound deposit of the ore in Pittsylvania County that it says will bring hundreds of jobs to a region that sorely needs them.


Opponents argue that the environmental and public health risks outweigh the economic advantages.”

Several weeks ago, the Roanoke River Basin Association proved to the satisfaction of KLPW and many others that a flooding creek above the site where the tailings or contaminated waste would be held could be compromised sending contamination into the Banister River and ultimately into Kerr Lake.



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NERVES RISE WITH WATERS OF CREEK NEAR FLOOD STAGE AT COLES HILL PROPOSED URANIUM MINING SITE

A creek near flood stage in Piedmont Virginia near a proposed Uranium mining site today brought an emphatic and impassioned demand for the US Army Corps of Engineers to take a position on proposed Uranium mining upstream from Kerr Lake.  That request came Roanoke River Basin Association leader, Gene Addesso, Vice President and acting President, as he told the group on the weekly meeting/call of the USACE Wilmington District Water Management Stakeholders that previous contact with the Corps has produced no action. 

Addesso, his group and many groups are concerned right now that there is evidence that rising waters of the creek near the proposed Uranium site at Coles’ Hill near Chatham, Virginia are demonstrating that the Uranium tailings that would be in holding ponds could flood and contaminate Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River basin. 

Addesso said he hasn’t gotten much interest, response or action from the other side of the Corps of Engineers so today he pleaded his case with the Water Resources side of Corps management.

The Virginia governor and legislative leaders have indicated they are ready to lift a ban.  Addesso said that the stakeholders in the river basin have to realize that there are billions of dollars on the table for the mining interests and that they have batteries of lawyers working to secure the mining permits.

But as the creek continues to rise near Cole’s Hill, Addesso said his group, RRBA (http://prod.rrba.org/) is on site taking photos and measurements to document that the contamination of mining scraps known as tailings could escape proposed holding ponds with flooding similar or worse than is going on now.  And the potential flooding there now is not any kind of major event.

Addesso also pointed out that once that kind of contamination occurs, the game is over.  KLPW, too, is concerned as one major contamination event, just one, could produce the end to park and lake recreation as it is now known.  “Although our focuses are somewhat different, we are equally concerned about any form of contamination that could jeopardize the reason that over two million visitors annually use Kerr Lake for some form of recreation”, said Frank Timberlake, Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch.  “Gene and his group are right on top of this and by showing the neighboring creek near flood stage without a major event, he has our attention.  We think the Corps needs to get proactive on this and do so now.”

There are a number of online resources surrounding the Uranium controversy.  You can Google “Virginia Uranium Mining” to see many.

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Virginia Uranium Offers Traveling Mobile Exhibit

Virginia Uranium Offers Traveling Mobile Exhibit



VIRGINIA URANIUM MINING COMPANY TAKES PROMOTION & PITCH ON THE ROAD…From The Chatham News and posted by KLPW

Virginia Uranium Inc. has developed a traveling mobile exhibit to share
information with the public about plans to mine and mill a 119 million pound
uranium deposit at Coles Hill in northeastern Pittsylvania County.

Stewart East, a geology technician for VUI, designed the 22-foot colorful
mobile unit headlining “Jobs for Virginia, Fuel for America.”

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

http://www.wpcva.com/articles/2011/08/05/chatham/news/news37.txt



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POSSIBLE URANIUM MINING PUTS ROANOKE RIVER ON NATION’S ENDANGERED LIST – Virginia Politics – The Washington Post

Click on the link to read the Washington Post story about changes in the one of the three main rivers of Kerr Lake.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/possible-uranium-m
ining-puts-roanoke-river-on-nations-most-endangered-list/2011/05/17/AFHjRv5G_
blog.html

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