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Survey: Businesses split 50-39% on uranium ban

RICHMOND

About half of Virginia's business leaders oppose lifting the moratorium on uranium mining, but "balanced, unbiased education" would increase confidence in the industry, according to a study.

The survey, commissioned by Gov. Bob McDonnell's interagency working group, was released Tuesday during a General Assembly session in which lawmakers will decide whether to end a 31-year-old state moratorium on uranium mining. The group released a report in November outlining a proposed regulatory scheme for uranium mining and milling.

Lawmakers in both chambers are drafting bills to establish licensing and regulatory requirements for a uranium mining and milling operation at Coles Hill near Chatham, where Virginia Uranium Inc. hopes to tap a 119 million-pound deposit worth an estimated $7 billion.

Supporters tout its potential economic benefits to the state and to Southside Virginia. Opponents say it could hurt regional economic development and pose environmental and health risks.

The research firm ORI of Herndon collected responses from 652 Virginia business representatives and seven regional and out-of-state site location consultants about allowing uranium mining in Pittsylvania County. The survey found no clear consensus among business leaders. About half - 50.3?percent - want the ban to remain, 39?percent favor lifting the moratorium, and 10.7?percent said they don't know.

Only about 60 percent were aware of the Pittsylvania deposit and the state's evaluation of uranium mining and milling. The survey also indicated that business leaders had little understanding of the technology and processes that would be used to extract uranium.

McDonnell will review the report before deciding on a recommendation.

— Local business leaders were primarily concerned about public water supplies and agriculture.

— Responses were mixed on mining's impact on local economic growth, with most concluding that it would have a negative effect on business revenue rather than positive.

Patrick Wales, project manager for Virginia Uranium, said the survey's conclusion on the "level of awareness" about uranium mining is understandable. Full-scale uranium mining has never occurred on the East Coast.

"That's to be expected with any new industry and that's why as we move forward it will be important to specifically address people's concerns and assure them of our commitment to safety and protecting the environment," he said in a statement.

Wales also noted that most business leaders did not view uranium mining as a "stigma."

Andrew Lester of the Roanoke River Basin Authority, which opposes uranium mining, said the report appears to downplay concerns raised by a National Academy of Sciences study by "suggesting that those who are concerned must not be educated enough on this issue."

The NAS study concluded Virginia would have to overcome "steep hurdles" to ensure that uranium mining and processing could be conducted safely. It did not offer a recommendation on the moratorium.

Posted to: Business Environment News Politics State Government Virginia

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Something stinks in Denmark

Bob creates the Uranium Working Group, and now we get these obviously skewed looking survey numbers. No VA businessman in their right mind would want this disaster in the making.

Anyone else seeing Bob's hand thoroughly being guided here? And don't even think about voting for Cucci, he'll tag team Bob on this and try to run for the end zone. Their collective silence on the issue is deafening at this point. You can smell this coming from a mile away.

Radioactive for thousands of years

Tailing from uranium mining stay radioactive for thousands of years. Call or email your representative and tell them to vote against this madness.

balanced, unbiased education

A comfort to a fools' heart. "There has never been uranium mining on the East Coast." The best way to protect the environment, is to protect the environment.

color me slack jawed

Okay here's the real question, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? A survey of *opinions* headed by our governor in which 4o% of the *chosen* participants weren't even aware of the mining proposal to begin with.

Shouldn't we rather be looking at an independent study conducted by geologists and other like minded experts, and not this half baked smokescreen from a half baked governor? Who has undoubtedly already signed off on it BTW. This is unbelievably stupid, just like everything else Bob has brought to the table. It's just me isn't it? Please for God's sake tell me it's not just me.

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