Can the Uranium industry really be regulated to the highest standards?

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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.

Mining, processing and reclamation all have the potential to affect surface and groundwater, soils and air. “These activities in Virginia will depend on site-specific conditions, the rigor of the monitoring program established to provide early warning of contaminant migration, and the efforts to mitigate and control potential impacts,” the report states.

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 it should be lifted, but makes clear the state must address a number of environmental and public safety issues before mining can occur.

Extreme natural events, including earthquakes, should be considered when assessing the suitability the Southside site of the uranium mining operation. Virginia was rattled by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in August.

The report points to many of the concerns raised by uranium mining opponents, who have argued the East Coast‘s wet, hurricane-prone climate is a risky environment for mining and milling, and for separating the radioactive ore from rock.

Full-scale uranium mining has never occurred on the East Coast, except as a byproduct of other mining.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has told us that there is no money in the state coffers for some of the most basic services the state once offered.  Where would the money come from to create a new regulatory agency for uranium mining? How much would that cost the taxpayers of Virginia?

And regarding the NRC regulating uranium milling, as is its province, we all know that the current Congress is hard at work attempting to do away with or at least cripple the NRC, the EPA and any other regulatory agency that they think might get in the way of “progress.”

Our own congressman, Robert Hurt, son of a VUI investor, has made it his stated goal to do away with regulation of industry by government. He still believes that the fox is a fine candidate for minding the henhouse.

Probably not.

The issue of uranium industry “transparency” is another pipe dream. Mining companies have never felt the need to interact with the public at large. Why should they? They have much more to lose by an active interaction with the public than the have to gain by keeping their operations and motives to themselves.

Nothing they could say would be very comforting to people living close to such an operation, or to people who depend on agriculture for their livelihood.



The bottom line is this: how can we trust a legislature to enforce non-existent uranium mining rules when they have done such a pitiable job of enforcing the rules over other forms of mining in Virginia?  And how can we trust federal regulatory agencies to do their jobs when they have been gutted by the lobbying efforts of the mining and manufacturing interest over the past 10 years?

How are we to believe that those agencies and that limited liability corporation will ever act in our best interest?


Source: Gazette Virginian

Source: Business Week

Source: GodanRiver

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