Environmental Injustice Looms Over Virginia, North Carolina, and Eastern Seaboard with Uranium Mining Cloud
In Virginia, this past year, environmental justice and pollution prevention issues have been paramount, as uranium mining prospectors, industry lobbyists, state regulators, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officers pressed Virginia legislators to lift a 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The opposition to uranium mining has been fierce, consisting of a dedicated and broad coalition of people and organizations from across Virginia and North Carolina, including civic, environmental, business, and civil rights groups and of municipalities and counties downstream from the proposed uranium mine.
While Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe opposes uranium mining and will not sign legislation to lift the ban on uranium mining, uranium mining officials have boldly announced that they have no intention of going away and are committed to a long-haul process to legalize uranium mining. In fact, Virginia Energy Resources, the company that intends to mine uranium, has erected a large sign that says , “Welcome to Pittsylvania County, Home of the Safest Uranium Mine in the World,” blatantly disregarding ordinances that prohibit such a conjectural message.
Pittsylvania County where the proposed Coles Hill uranium deposit is situated (one of the largest in North America which is about 20 miles from the North Carolina border in Southside Virginia, near Chatham, Virginia, and at the headwaters of the Roanoke River Basin, which includes Kerr and Gaston Lakes, the water supply to nearly two million people in North Carolina and Virginia.
Meanwhile, as uranium exploration continues to be legal and company officials declare their commitment to get uranium mining legalized, uranium mining opponents in Virginia and North Carolina are continuing to prepare for what could become a politically and environmentally apocalyptic battle that would decisively determine the fate of the Eastern Seaboard and beyond.