Virginia's Uranium Mining Moratorium

For over 20 years, proponents of a healthy Virginia have questioned whether uranium mining has been properly conducted in regions with (geologic, hydrologic, meteorological, etc.) conditions similar to those found in Virginia. Uranium mining proponents have claimed that it has been conducted properly in France.

In the following newsletter from Virginia Uranium, Inc.  they conduct a comparison between conditions in Bessines, France and Pittsylvania County, Virginia. While the newsletter provides a brief comparison chart of the two areas, information has yet to be provided that uranium mining has been safely conducted in France. A recent report from the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity in France, discusses the legacy of uranium mining in France and disclosed that: "at all the French uranium mines where it made radiological surveys, the CRIIRAD laboratory discovered situations of environmental contamination and a lack of proper protection of the inhabitants against health risks due to ionizing radiation."

The report also concludes that:

  • At all the French uranium mines where it made radiological surveys, the CRIIRAD laboratory discovered situations of environmental contamination and a lack of proper protection of the inhabitants against health risks due to ionizing radiation.
  • This is due to the lack of proper regulations, a poor awareness of the radiological hazards associated with uranium and its by products, insufficient monitoring practices, the lack of controls by the local and national administration, etc.
  • When the mines are shut down, the radioactive waste remains, and it seems that the costs for managing this radioactive legacy will have to be largely supported by the society, not the companies.

Virginia should not follow the lead of a country that has allowed a lack of proper protection to its citizens and the environment -- or allow a situation where "the costs for managing this radioactive legacy will have to be largely supported by the society, not the companies."


In addition, the Radiological Hazards from Uranium Mining report by CRIIRAD notes that:

Accumulation of radioactive metals in sediments and plants of rivers, ponds, and lakes by contaminated waters from former mines (and also tailing deposits, uncovered waste rock deposits, etc.) is a problem that is not yet properly addressed by the companies.

Bioaccumulation of radioactive metals can be extremely high in the biota. In some cases, the contamination of aquatic plants by radium 226 downstream uranium mines can exceed 100,000 Bq/kg dry (Table 3). This shows that the mine water treatment system is not operating properly. The problem of bioaccumulation is usually not taken into consideration by the companies nor the administrations in charge of environmental monitoring and regulatory control.

The CRIIRAD laboratory discovered that sediments, aquatic plants and soil from river banks downstream former uranium mines have such a contamination that they deserve in many cases the terminology: "radioactive waste."
 

Radioactive Waste Leaking into Champagne Water Supply
Proponents of uranium mining keep citing the French as the model to follow. France uses state of the art waste storage facilities. One such facility is now leaking, threatening the Champagne wine industry. Is this really the model for Virginia to emulate? Read more in the Greenpeace Press Release (May 20, 2006).

 
 
 

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