Written by Staff
07:41 am 01/04/12
With more information to absorb than time permits before next week’s General Assembly session gets under way, local legislators are asking colleagues to delay action this year on lifting the state ban on uranium mining that has been in place for the past three decades.
Drafted by Del. James E. Edmunds II of Halifax and signed by Sen. Frank Ruff Jr. of Clarksville, Danny W.
Marshall of Danville, Donald W. Merricks of Chatham and Thomas C. Wright of Lunenburg, a letter was penned Dec. 28 and sent out to legislators this week.
In the letter, Edmunds refers to the recently unveiled National Academy of Sciences Report on uranium mining that followed similar reports by Chmura Economics, the Danville Regional Foundation, Virginia Beach and others that have drawn extensive newspaper coverage. He described the reports as “long and detailed” with parts that are “dense and complex.”
He added, “What they are not is boring.”
“Uranium mining will be the single most important and most visible public policy issue of the session,” he wrote.
The local delegate said it will only take one spill, one reading above “acceptable” levels or one newspaper article documenting elevated radon levels or toxic chemicals in the water for the public stigma to be “devastating.”
“Untold harm will be done to economic development and property values for years,” he wrote.
Because legislators need time to digest the studies, particularly the Academy’s sections on the risks to public health and the environment, Edmunds urged his fellow legislators to take time to read the reports.
“Don’t simply rely on advocates of either view or lobbyists with an agenda. This is too important,” he said.
Those signing the letter question how the General Assembly can in good conscious vote on such an important issue as lifting the uranium moratorium when the public education effort is just getting under way.
Public hearings on the National Academy of Sciences report are scheduled to be conducted around the state during upcoming months.
Edmunds pointed out history teaches that human error and system failures are inevitable.
“The unexpected happens. Design flaws show up after the fact. Mistakes occur, hurricanes and earthquakes will happen… the question is not if these events will occur, but when and at what cost,” the delegate continued.