The Roanoke River Basin Association, a leading organization in the fight against lifting the ban on uranium mining in Virginia, is calling on Roanoke Valley residents to take a stand.
“Even though they’re not a citizen of Virginia, they are still stakeholders,” Association Executive Director Andrew Lester said.
According to Lester, at noon Monday the Coal and Energy Commission meets in Richmond, Va., to go over the Uranium Working Group report submitted by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s directive.
The group, made up of staff from the departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Health (VDH) and Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), was directed to provide scientific policy analysis to determine if the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia should be lifted and how best to do it.
Several reports over the past year, including the National Academy of Sciences, the Virginia Beach Study and the Baker Study, state serious health and environmental issues could emerge if the 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia is lifted.
Specifically the Virginia Beach Study shows the contamination of drinking water in the Roanoke Valley, if there were a breach of waste containment cells at a Pittsylvania County, Va., mining operation.
Lester said the Association has put together an allied coalition to stand against lifting the ban. They will meet at 11 a.m. Monday in the House Briefing Room at the General Assembly in Richmond where they will hold a news conference.
“We need those of you who can attend to please come up that day,” Lester said. “Your show of support is critical.”
There will be six speakers representing the distinct stakeholder interests, and a new web site www.commonhealthva.org will be introduced.
“At noon the C&EC is scheduled to meet at the General Assembly, so there will be a chance to see the action first hand,” Lester said.
One person planning to attend is Mike Pucci, head of the North Carolina Coalition Against Uranium Mining.
“The war has begun,” he said, adding he’s putting together a group of government leaders from the lower river basin to represent North Carolina interests.
He is pleased North Carolina is taking a stand on the issue, adding State Rep. Michael Wray, D-Gaston, spoke with McDonnell on the issue. Then on Dec. 13, Pucci said, the Virginia governor received a letter from the N.C. General Assembly speaking in opposition to lifting the ban on uranium mining.
“We can tolerate almost any industry in the area, but uranium mining is different,” Pucci said.
Pucci stressed the importance of continuing to put pressure on Virginia to keep the ban and encouraged residents to visit www.common
healthva.org for information on how to contact Virginia legislators.