Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 7, 2013

Va. uranium mining wins 1st legislative test


Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. —  Proposed uranium mining in Virginia has survived its first legislative test with lawmakers recommending that the General Assembly consider the creation of regulations for the mining of the radioactive ore.

The Coal and Energy Commission voted 11-2 with three members abstaining on Monday in support of legislation being drafted by Republican Sen. John Watkins that would limit mining to the Coles Hill deposit in Pittsylvania County by Virginia Uranium Inc. The legislation could lay the groundwork for the end of a decades-old ban on uranium mining in the state.

Virginia Uranium has proposed tapping a 119-million-pound deposit of the ore in the county. 

Opponents argue that Virginia’s wet, hurricane-prone environment is a bad place to mine uranium. Virginia Uranium says mining and milling can be done safely.

After the vote was announced, some members of the audience expressed their dismay. One woman shouted, “We will never forget what you’ve done.”

Watkins based his legislation on the work of the multi-agency Uranium Working Group created by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has said he has not formed a position on uranium mining. The group submitted its report to McDonnell in late November but did not recommend whether the decades-old ban should be lifted.

The General Assembly convenes on Wednesday.