Thursday, July 26, 2012
Uranium mining may be bad for business
By Freeda Cathcart
Cathcart will present on the benefits and risks of uranium mining at the Cabell Brand Center for Global Poverty and Resource Sustainability Studies' public forum on uranium mining to be held Friday at Virginia Western Community College.
Does the potential benefit of uranium mining outweigh the risks for Virginia? That is the question that legislators will need to answer in the 2013 General Assembly. The public forum on uranium mining on Friday at Virginia Western Community College will have expert speakers to provide valuable information on the possibility of uranium mining in Virginia so that citizens can participate in this important decision.
Most of the debate so far between supporters of keeping the ban on uranium mining and those who would like the ban to be lifted has focused on the environmental safety and citizens' health versus bringing jobs to Virginia.
A recent interview with Ben Davenport Jr., former chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of the Future of the Piedmont Foundation, in a report by Robert Powell on VirginiaBusiness.com ("Solon of Southern Virginia") challenges the promises of the uranium industry that it will bring desirable jobs to Southside. Davenport observes that uranium mining "just didn't fit in" to the long-term economic plan that business and civic leaders in Southside have been working on for decades.
Davenport co-founded the Future of the Piedmont Foundation more than a decade ago with the mission to determine how the tobacco settlement money for Danville and Pittsylvania County could best be used to revitalize its depressed economy. Its work helped to create the $80 million Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, a fiber-optic network serving all of Southern Virginia.
This network has provided residents of Southside the ability to research the uranium industry and to connect directly with people who live in uranium mining towns. They have used social media to create their own grassroots organizations to rise up to prevent the uranium industry from compromising their recovery from the tobacco industry.
The people of Southside want to be defined by more than a single industry.
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville is another result of the tobacco settlement and is part of a partnership with Virginia Tech. The institute offers degree programs in conjunction with a number of schools while conducting research in the areas of horticulture and forestry, motorsports and vehicle performance, renewable energy and bioproducts, and robotics and unmanned systems.
"We wanted to create an icon that said we are evolving, we're about change," Davenport said.
Davenport has experience with how today's best practices can become future violations as science learns more about how some industries compromise the environment and citizens' health.
So I would say that maybe we might be pretty darn well qualified to say: You may think the rules and regulations you start out with are going to be the ones you finish with, but I doubt it. I've never had any regulation that I ever dealt with that didn't become more stringent as time went on. Things that used to be measured in parts per million now are measured in parts per billion. The acceptable level of contaminants in different kinds of waste streams has changed dramatically."
When asked what the future holds for Southside, Davenport replied, "I see a beautiful river, and I can see shops and technology companies. All of those things fit together. I don't see a mine."
at 11:00 PM