By Katherine Vance
Editor & Multimedia Producer, The Piedmont Environmental Council
In 2007, Virginia Uranium, Inc. (VUI) made their intentions clear: they wanted to persuade lawmakers to lift the Commonwealth’s standing moratorium on uranium mining and milling. The company had their eyes set on a large deposit of uranium in Southwest Virginia, and they ignored the numerous warnings and unknowns. Determined to break ground in Pittsylvania County, VUI poured millions into a massive lobbying effort and PR campaign to make it happen. They pulled all of the stops— including flying legislators to France.
Nevermind that, in the U.S., uranium mining and milling has never been attempted east of the Mississippi—where heavy rainfall, storms, tornados, and hurricanes are annual events. Nevermind that the toxic waste would put the water, air, and soil of numerous communities in Virginia and North Carolina at risk of contamination. Nevermind that multiple studies have linked exposure to uranium and mining wastes to numerous health issues. Nevermind the risks—VUI saw the chance for transitory economic gain, and they weren’t going to let warnings of long-term effects get in their way. … Continue Reading