The shock has nearly worn off. The news I didn’t want to hear. I’ve followed the human health and environmental devastation caused by uranium mining on tribal lands for a few decades. I’ve written letters to the editor against nuclear power because there is no safe way to store the radioactive waste left behind, toxic for many 1,000’s of years.
And now it’s coming to our backyard, in beautiful lush green Virginia. Last weekend I heard a Navajo man named Robert Tohe speak on the legacy of degradation from uranium mining out west. He said: “There’s really no place to hold this kind of waste, so why would you generate more if there is no place to store it? Is it need or greed?”
Last year I covered a story on a citizen’s group focused on the protection our water.
Uranium mining is like selling it to the devil. There’s never been uranium mining east of the Mississippi for a reason. Virginia’s climate is wet. Its land is rich with waterways. Contamination travels through the air and through water.
Isn’t it ironic that the indigenous people of the southwest have sacrificed their lives and land to uranium mining and so many of their communities don’t even have electricity?
When I say sacrifice I mean it literally. In the 1970’s the National Academy of Sciences coined the term “national sacrifice area” for the four corners area (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado) of the southwest.
The price of uranium is up right now. Will we be fighting someday against a country or a terrorist group using nuclear weapons made with our own uranium, like Saddam used weapons against the U.S. that the U.S. sold to him?
Jobs? What about the jobs lost? As Pittsylvania County organizer Deborah Lovelace said, “Who’s going to want to buy beef from us?” She and her husband, whose family has been farming for 9 generations, live about 5 miles away from the first proposed mining site.
It was a good turnout Tuesday night at the library for the first organizational meeting of Floyd Countains intent on keeping Virginia’s 29 year uranium mining moratorium in place. From what I could tell none of the 40 or so people in attendance had to be convinced that the risks of mining radioactive uranium outweigh the benefits.
The meeting was a follow-up to last month’s presentation in Floyd by a group from Pittsylvania County (about 75 miles south of Floyd) where investors, partnered with a Canadian backed company, are making plans to mine a large uranium deposit, and where exploratory drilling has already taken place.
Cheri Chalfant, (our poster girl) who facilitated the meeting, said the story I wrote for the local paper (which appeared on the front page with a picture of her holding a NO Uranium Mining sign) has generated a lot of interest.
Joe Montag had just returned from a public hearing in Richmond and gave a brief report. I made a few comments about the Pittsylvania County meeting where Robert Tohe spoke.
There was some talk about the uranium mining leases that were sought in Floyd County back in the 70’s (and at least one person in the room remembered that firsthand) before everyone got down to business.
Media coverage and action events, setting up a Facebook page, hosting the Sierra Club to give an educational presentation, taking our own presentations on the road, talking to every one, bringing the issue to local churches and schools, talking to our supervisors and state representatives, creating a politician’s scorecard and a talking points brochure were all part of the brainstorming list that various people signed up for.
Time is short. Studies are due by the end of the year. A vote on whether to lift the uranium mining moratorium or not will likely be pushed through the General Assembly around the first of next year.