Currently, Virginia has a moratorium on uranium mining, which was imposed in 1982 in response to public outcry at the attempts to mine uranium in several Virginia counties - Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Pittsylvania. Virginia is believed to have very large untapped uranium deposits throughout the state. The efforts to lift the uranium mining moratorium were resumed in 2007 when uranium prices spiked.
The first uranium mine, as proposed, would be located in Coles Hill, VA and would create a risk of contamination for the Roanoke River Basin which begins upstream from the Smith Mountain Lake, runs through Southside Virginia all the way to Lake Gaston, the main water supply for Virginia Beach.
Uranium is a highly toxic heavy metal that emits alpha radiation and when consumed can cause kidney failure and birth defects. The mining of just 4-5 lb of high quality uranium ore produces at least one ton of radioactive waste, also known as uranium mining tailings, which contain polonium, radium, thorium, radon, lead and many other toxic elements that are responsible for causing cancer and birth defects.
Uranium mining tailings remain radioactive and highly toxic for thousands of years and must be contained to prevent seepage into ground waters, overspills into surface waters, and dispersion by air. The task of containing radioactive uranium mining tailings becomes nearly impossible in Virginia's climate with its high precipitation levels, frequent floods and major storms that hit Virginia frequently, as it is a coastal state.
Virginia has abundant natural resources that should be used for joy and benefits of its citizens and visitors. In recent years Virginia has made a tremendous progress in reviving and further developing its tourism industry and agriculture. Virginia is on the path toward self-destruction for the sake of short-term gains (if there will be any) and we, the taxpayers, will pay very high costs of destroyed environment, ruined health, life styles and businesses. Let's all get together and not let this happen to our beautiful Virginia.
Sources: Piedmont Environmental Council, Uranium Mining Maps:
Piedmont Environmental Council, Water and Uranium Mining: http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,391,1629,0,html/Water-amp-Uranium-Mining
Piedmont Environmental Council, The Consequences of Toxic Uranium: http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,391,1321,0,html/The-Consequences-of-Toxic-Uranium
Environmental Protection Agency, Uranium Mining Tailings: http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/radwaste/402-k-94-001-umt.html
Dr. Doug Brugge, Tufts University School of Medicine, Health Impacts of Uranium Mining: New Research Findings: http://vcnva.org/anx/ass/library/52/bruggeuraniumhealtheffects.pdf
Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Uranium Mining: Radioactive Legacy: http://vcnva.org/anx/ass/library/52/edwardsuraniumhistoryandcanadianmining.pdf