Subject: FARMERS AND CITIZEN GROUPS URGE NAS URANIUM PANEL TO OUTLINE IMPACTS ON VIRGINIA AGRICULTURE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2011
Contact: Phillip Lovelace, 434-841-3845
Andrew Lester, Roanoke River Basin Association, 434-250-1185
FARMERS AND CITIZEN GROUPS URGE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES URANIUM PANEL TO OUTLINE IMPACTS ON VIRGINIA AGRICULTURE
Pittsylvania County, VA - dozens of farmers from six (6) Virginia counties and five (5) citizen groups submitted joint comments to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel preparing a report on various aspects of uranium mining and milling, and storage of uranium mill tailings waste as they pertain to Virginia. The NAS report will assist the Virginia General Assembly to decide the fate of the 30-year uranium mining ban on uranium mining currently in effect in the Commonwealth. The NAS panel will not make any specific recommendations on whether uranium mining should be permitted in the Commonwealth.
In their joint comments, farmers and citizen groups urge the NAS uranium panel to include in its final report the information on exposure pathways for radioactive and heavy metal contaminants from uranium mining and milling operations finding their way into the food chain.
Running an all natural farm, concerned as are my customers about the environmental pollutant effects on our food. The whole reason we are in business is because we provide healthy natural products. We will surely lose our customers if uranium mining comes into town,â€ said Jacques Fuhrmann, the owner of Our Fathers Farm in Gretna, VA.
According to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is Virginiaâ€™s largest industry by far, with nothing else being a close second. The industry has an economic impact of $55 billion annually and provides more than 357,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.5 jobs elsewhere in the Virginia economy.
The 50-mile radius around the Coles Hill site encompasses 16 Virginia counties with 10,880 farms that, according to the US Department of Agriculture, generated over $712 million in gross revenues in 2007.
The farmers and groups expressed a concern that the growing fear of radiation exposure prompted by Japanâ€™s nuclear disaster will carry over to the publicâ€™s perception regarding the safety and quality of Virginiaâ€™s agricultural products coming from the areas affected by uranium mining and milling. â€œAs a career farmer, I know public attitude about the quality, the freshness and the wholesomeness of my farm products are important factors. Issues like uranium mining and milling, their perceived risks to the food chain, and inevitable concerns over the safety of fresh farm products directly affects the demand for my product,â€ said Wayne Kirkpatrick, a farmer from Patrick County.
The comments to the NAS panel state that because the agricultural industry is often influenced as much by the publicâ€™s perception of safety risks as the reality of the actual chance of a risk to health, detection of even miniscule amounts of contamination can negatively affect the marketability of all Virginiaâ€™s farm products for years. The farmers want Virginia legislators, who will be relying on the NAS report, to be fully informed of the risks associated with possible contamination of the food chain as a result of uranium mining and milling.
I am very fearful that the future of Halifax County's agriculture viability would be severely compromised with uranium mining in a contiguous county. I think, and the data show that the future of sustainable food production is in regional farming. Halifax County is one of the largest open land masses within 250 miles of the coastline on the entire Eastern seaboard.
It will play an integral role 10, 20, 30 years from now in supplying the mid Atlantic and Southeast regions with food. Uranium mining could have a devastating effect not just on the future of Halifax County, but a much larger demographic area's ability to feed itself,â€ said Bill Abbott, the owner of Abbotts Farms Supplies from Halifax County.
William R. Witcher
Silas W. Shelton Jr.
J. Carl Parsons-
Byron D. Motley
Phillip M. Lovelace
James C. Wilson
Willie C Wilson
Cory H. Moore
Allen W. Moore
The Plains, VA
Robert W. Schenkel
Tom and Wren Olivier
Albemarle County, VA
W. A Abbott
Randy K. Wade
Laura C. Larlum
Sandy Level, VA
Orange County, VA
Sandy Level, VA
League of Individuals for the Environment, Inc. is a section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote environmentally aware and sustainable communities in Pittsylvania County and throughout Virginia, and to work cooperatively with individuals, organizations, agencies and community groups to promote environmental education through community awareness, education and public policy. Contact: Deborah Lovelace, President, League of Individuals for the Environment, Inc., P.O. Box 622, Gretna, VA 24557
Roanoke River Basin Associationâ€™s mission is to promote development, use, preservation and enhancement of the resources of the Basin in the best interests of present and future generations of Basin residents. RRBA believes that basin resource conservation can co-exist with managed economic growth. Contact: Andrew Lester, Executive Director, Roanoke River Basin Association, P.O. Box 10548, Danville, VA 24543. Website: www.rrba.org
We the People (formerly Southside Concerned Citizens) has been in existence since the mid 1980's. It previously worked to protect southern Virginia from corporate hog farming and nuclear waste disposal. The organization was pivotal in the development of state of the art pollution controls for the local ODEC plant in Halifax County. The organization was the primary opposing group to uranium mining in Southside Virginia in 1984 when mining was first proposed. Contact: Jack Dunavant, Chairman, We the People, Inc., P.O. Box 1569, Halifax, VA 24558
Dan River Basin Association works to protect and promote the natural and cultural resources of the Dan River Basin through recreation, education and stewardship. The Association also promotes regional nature and heritage tourism to foster sustainable economic development. Contact: Tiffany Haworth, Executive Director, Dan River Basin Association, 413 Church Street, Suite 401, Eden, NC 27288-3243. Website: www.danriver.org
Piedmont Residents in Defense of the Environment is a non-profit, tax deductible organization promoting earth stewardship and open government. Contact: Karen B. Maute, President. P.O. Box 11521, Danville, VA 24543-1521, http://prideva.blogspot.com