News / USA

    Despite Legislative Stall, Virginia Mining Debate Grinds On

    Brian Padden
    One of the largest uranium-ore deposits in the world, valued at about $7 billion, is located in an economically-depressed, rural area of the southern U.S. state of Virginia.
     
    Deep underground at Coles Hill, a spread of mostly pasture and farmland, lies more than 53 million kilos [119 million pounds] of uranium ore, which a company called Virginia Uranium is seeking state approval to mine.
     
    “We are in a part of Virginia that’s dealing with double-digit unemployment," says company spokesman Patrick Wales, who suggests the project would be good for the struggling local economy. "The median household income in our part of Virginia is less than $30,000. And so it’s not only the creation of these thousand jobs that our project would support, but these are good high-paying jobs as well.”
     
    Wales also says the mine would make the United States less reliant on foreign imports of the highly radioactive metal needed to power the country’s 104 nuclear reactors.
     
    However, Deborah Ferruccio and fellow regional activists have so far been able to block the company’s efforts to lift a ban on uranium mining in Virginia.
     
    Arguing that uranium mining around the world has caused large-scale environmental damage, she and her supporters have shown that the practice releases toxic levels of radioactive waste into local water supplies and even spreads poisonous dust into the atmosphere.
     
    “They know that it is impossible to contain the waste," Ferruccio says of the company officials. "They know that they can try to minimize the waste contamination that gets out, but, for instance, all liners leak. They’re going to put this in a lined [zone], what would be similar to a landfill.”
     
    “It is our incumbent responsibility as a company to demonstrate that we will be able to mine and mill and safely store our tailings," says Wales, concurring that Virginia Uranium will take measures to protect the water supply during mining, and plans to store the tailings (radioactive waste) underground, encased in layers of clay and synthetic liners.
     
    In 1978 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) developed stringent uranium safety regulations to protect human health and the environment. NRC uranium expert Bill Von Till says even if Virginia lifts the ban, the company must also meet the federal commission's high standards.
     
    “In the end if they can’t satisfy our regulatory criteria and allow us to make sure that is it going to be protective of public health and safety, we will not issue a license," he said.
     
    Naomi Hodge-Muse, who lives near the site of the uranium deposit, is not persuaded by either government requirements or the company’s assurances. She says ordinary people are being asked to assume all the risk so an elite few can reap the financial rewards.
     
    “We’re going to sacrifice poor whites and poor blacks for the prosperity of, well, the nuclear industry, really,” she says.
     
    For now, efforts to lift the uranium mining ban have stalled in the Virginia General Assembly, but both sides say the issue is still very much alive and they will continue to lobby lawmakers and build public support for future legislative battles.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora