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BREAKING NEWS: Uranium study released
'Steep hurdles' exist to ensure mining is safe, it states
Monday, December 19, 2011
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS -
RICHMOND - A highly anticipated National Academy of Sciences report on uranium mining concluded Monday that Virginia must overcome "steep hurdles" before it can assure that a rich deposit of the radioactive ore can be safely extracted and processed, as a mining company wants to do.
The 290-page report is expected to guide the 2012 General Assembly if it considers ending a 30-year ban on uranium mining. The report does not recommend whether the ban be lifted or remain in place, but makes clear the state must address a number of environmental and public safety issues before mining can occur.
The report points to many of the concerns raised by opponents of uranium mining, who have argued the East Coast's wet, hurricane-prone climate is a risky environment for mining uranium and milling, or separating the radioactive ore from rock.
Full-scale uranium mining has never occurred on the East Coast, except as a byproduct of other mining.
Virginia Uranium Inc. has proposed mining a 119-million-pound deposit in Pittsylvania County, near the North Carolina border. The Coles Hill deposit, as it is called, is the largest known deposit in the U.S. and the seventh largest in the world.
The uranium would be processed into yellowcake used to power nuclear power reactors. The U.S. now imports more than 90 percent of its nuclear fuel.
If Virginia decided to end the ban, the NAS study said a muscular regulatory climate would have to be in place to ensure public and worker safety and to protect the environment.