Club hosts uranium mining forum

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012


FRANKLIN— A Richmond woman spoke on the benefits, hazards and long-term effects of mining one of the largest undeveloped uranium deposits in the nation in south-central Virginia.

“This is an important issue for the state of Virginia,” Peyton Wells told about 200 during a recent Franklin Garden Club meeting at Cypress Cove Country Club. “There is no question about that, and the outcome of this will affect us forever.”

A member of the Tuckahoe Garden Club, Wells is attempting to inform the public about uranium mining from both sides of the issue. Uranium mining is banned in Virginia, but an attempt is under way to repeal that ban.

“This will be a controversial issue in the upcoming general assembly session,” said Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt. “I will support my constituent base. A lot of other legislators as I do feel that this is a new project and it has not been researched in detail.

“This will not just affect us now but years and years to come,” Tyler added.

Wells said on a positive note, the mining would help the country move to energy independence.

“Currently the state of Virginia imports 100 percent of the uranium needed to power the nuclear reactors and the country imports over 90 percent of the uranium needed to fuel the reactors around the country,” she said.

Uranium mining has become an increasingly controversial topic because of this deposit. In 2007 The Virginia Uranium mining company began exploratory drilling and announced plans to mine the deposit, and is pushing to repeal the ban.

“Mining this natural resource could bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to Virginia,” Wells said. “The move could bring a huge boom to an area of the state hard hit during the recession.”

Studies have shown adverse health effects when exposed to increased uranium levels in drinking water. The concern locally is because of potential contamination risks to the Roanoke River, which could impact Lake Gaston, the Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Norfolk drinking water supply.

Franklin Garden Club member Anne Parker thought it was a great opportunity for people to become more informed on the topic.

“I think Peyton gave the listeners the necessary information,” Parker said. “I hope that people will let their representatives know how they feel.”

“I was just amazed after seeing both sides of the issue,” added Jordan Hewett, a second-year student at Paul D Camp Community College. “This issue is like a checkers game where no one really wins.”

Hewett, 20, said that there needs to be more done to make the transition to cleaner energy and work sustainability as a population.

“With this topic it all depends on which viewpoint you take on this issue,” he said. “We as a state do need to regulate more on fossil fuel energies and look more into wind energy.”

Wells reminded everyone that the state lawmakers are your voice.

Tyler said one thing citizens should do is voice their concerns to local lawmakers, state senators, house delegate members.

“The more information and the more citizens express about their concerns to local legislators, that will be what helps us make the decision,” she said.