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« BHP shuts uranium arm; nuclear-fuel prospects dim | Main | Only a few weeks to get that all important Christmas Present for someone close to you »

Environment, economy, energy factors in debate over uranium mining in Virginia

Virginia Politics

By Errin Haines

The question of whether to allow uranium mining in Virginia could come down to a debate over the environment, energy and the economy.

A panel convened to discuss the issue on Wednesday at the annual AP Day at the Capitol in Richmond largely agreed that proposed guidelines outlined in a recently published state-ordered report won’t completely eliminate the potential risks associated with uranium mining. There was less consensus about whether those risks outweighed the possible benefits.

“You’re looking at an extraordinarily high-stakes gamble,” said Cale Jaffe, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Right now, it’s not a gamble Virginia should take.”

The commonwealth has been under a 30-year moratorium on issuing uranium-mining permits until regulations are established for safely mining the mineral. Lifting the ban could be the first step in clearing the way to mine a 119-million-pound uranium lode in south central Virginia.

“This decision is the go (or) no-go point,” Jaffe said. “If you lift the ban, you’ve started down the process. You don’t buy the ticket and get on the train if you don’t plan on going to the big city. This is that moment for Virginia right now.”

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