Uranium Mining Report Cites Benefits; Also Notes Environmental Risks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Uranium Mining Report Cites Benefits; Also Notes Environmental Risks


Byline: David Sherfinski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Lifting a decades-long ban on uranium mining could generate more than 1,000 jobs and have an annual economic impact of $135 million, should the hot button-issue of tapping a site in Southside Virginia move forward, according to a study from a Richmond-based economic forecasting firm.

The 179-page report from Chmura Economics and Analytics assumes that the site would be operated and dismantled within established federal guidelines and concludes that the potential impact on real estate values would be minimal.

Virginia Uranium Inc. wants the General Assembly to lift a 30-year moratorium on uranium mining in the state so that it can tap into an estimated 119-million-pound site in Pittsylvania County - considered to be one of the world's largest untapped sources of the radioactive element widely used in nuclear reactors.

This moves us one step closer toward energy independence for America and the energy security and economic benefits that it brings, said Ray Ganthner, president of the Virginia Energy Independence Alliance.

Opponents, however, vociferously oppose lifting the ban, citing environmental and public health concerns.

We really think what this does is it highlights the concerns we've been voicing all along, said Rob Marmet, seniorenergy policy analyst with the Piedmont Environmental Council.

The Chmura analysis, prepared for the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, came with a number of caveats. It concluded that a baseline scenario with a moderate environmental impact on water, air, noise and soil quality was more likely to occur than others, but that the risks and rewards were not balanced. In essence, the negative economic impact in the event of severe environmental damage was twice as large as the positive impact in the best-case scenario of negligible environmental impact.

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Uranium Mining Report Cites Benefits; Also Notes Environmental Risks
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