All the fuss about uranium


How much do you know about uranium mining in Virginia? It’s an issue that’s been bubbling along in the news for a few years and has the potential to be a major sticking point in the next session of the General Assembly. Tonight, a workshop at Cityspace will lay out why an existing ban on uranium mining may be lifted, and what the arguments are for keeping it.

Essentially, a gigantic deposit of uranium lies near Danville, and a company called Virginia Uranium, Inc. would like very much to extract it. They’re flying Virginia legislators to France to see a decommissioned mine there–part of their efforts to lobby for a repeal of the ban.

Meanwhile, environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters are fighting to keep the ban in place, because of potential contamination of drinking water and the health risks from radioactive waste.

Though the Danville site–which may produce up to 119 million pounds of uranium–is the one immediately at issue, uranium deposits exist around the state, so this may someday become a more local concern.

Having grown up in an area of Pennsylvania that’s indelibly marked by decades of extractive industry–coal mining, steel production, and most recently natural gas drilling–my personal take is that Virginia should hold tightly to the uranium mining ban and any other measure that limits the damage we do to the exquisite place we call home. Once it’s ruined, you can’t put it back. And drinking water should be a non-negotiable resource.

The workshop begins at 6pm tonight.