Uranium Mining Commission; established, report. (SB525)

Introduced By

Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) with support from co-patrons Sen. Phil Puckett (D-Tazewell), Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield), Sen. John Watkins (R-Midlothian), and Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Uranium mining. Establishes a 15-member executive branch commission to assess the risks and benefits of developing uranium resources in Virginia. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/09/2008Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 083952340
01/09/2008Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
01/18/2008Impact statement from DPB (SB525)
01/25/2008Impact statement from DPB (SB525)
01/29/2008Assigned ACNR sub: Special Subcommittee on SB525
02/04/2008Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources with substitite (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/04/2008Committee substitute printed 083968340-S1
02/04/2008Rereferred to Rules
02/07/2008Impact statement from DPB (SB525S1)
02/08/2008Reported from Rules with substitute (16-Y 1-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2008Committee substitute printed 084239340-S2
02/11/2008Constitutional reading dispensed (37-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/12/2008Committee substitute rejected 083968340-S1
02/12/2008Committee substitute agreed to 084239340-S2
02/12/2008Read second time
02/12/2008Committee substitute from Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources rejected 083968340-S1
02/12/2008Reading of substitute waived
02/12/2008Committee substitute from Rules agreed to 084239340-S2
02/12/2008Reading of amendments waived
02/12/2008Amendments by Senator Hurt agreed to
02/12/2008Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute with amendments SB525ES2
02/12/2008Printed as engrossed 084239340-ES2
02/12/2008Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/12/2008Passed Senate (36-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/12/2008Communicated to House
02/14/2008Placed on Calendar
02/14/2008Read first time
02/14/2008Referred to Committee on Rules
02/22/2008Impact statement from DPB (SB525ES2)
03/03/2008Tabled in Rules


Eileen Levandoski writes:

What does this man have against clean air and water?

robert legge writes:

Seems like it is hard to vote against studying something, especially something that can have long term consequences. But there is sort of a fear that this is the first step toward uranium mining. If it is never studyied does that mean that it will never happen?

Tim McCormack writes:

@Robert: That's an excellent question! For all I know, this could be a

@Eileen: Actually, take a look through the man's bills. He's the patron of a number of renewable energy bills. Uranium is one of those energy sources that is both supported and reviled on both sides of the environmentalism spectrum. :-)

robert legge writes:

Where's that spellchecker button?

Tim McCormack writes:

@Robert: And I screwed up my response to you. Must be all the radiation. :-) Anyway, what I meant to say was: "For all I know, this could be a aimed at producing a study that shows that uranium mining would negatively impact Virginia."

mosquito writes:

This issue has already been studied to death....The study is just a cover to undo the perfectly great study that led VA to BAN uranium mining 30years ago. There have been NO technology developments to make uranium mining safer and no new facts to dispute the prior study.

What we have is some folks creating a mining company so they can make around 13 BILLION dollars...and they are spending money and calling in all the influence they can....The hell with public health...the hell with the FACT that uranium mining HAS NEVER BEEN DONE IS A WET STATE LIKE VA....ONLY DRY DESERT AREAS...AND THIS IS BECAUSE OF PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES.


Va. Conservation Network, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Energy - Oppose

Sarah S. writes:

Wagner's bill does not mandate that the decision be based on an independent scientific study. Billions of dollars are involved - need I say more?

Christine Llewellyn writes:

This bill has two primary provisions:

a 15-person politically appointed commission to study the feasibility of mining Uranium in Virginia--what's the rush? Why no contracted scientific study from the National Academy of Science or National Science Foundation before this? As opposed to INDUSTRY FUNDED study.

directs that regulations be drawn up on how to mine uranium in Virginia--then why do they need the commission and study? This is really important....why do they need regulations before the study has been performed? Maybe they know what results an INDUSTRY FUNDED study will show already?

Here are the Facts and talking points:

this is a separate question from nuclear power. This is mining of uranium.
15 years ago the citizens of Virginia insisted on a moratorium on Uranium mining in the state
the nation's largest and richest deposit of uranium is found in Pittsylvania country, near Danville, Va., in the south central part of the state
to date, most large scale mining of uranium in the US has been in the arid, unpopulated deserts of the West (and were a health and environmental disaster)

there are amazing amounts of slurry associated with uranium mining (radioactive mine tailings suspended in water) that must be ponded

Danville gets about 44 inches of rain per year and, like all of SE US, is subject to remnants of hurricanes

uranium has never been mined in the US in such a wet and populated area
the water supplies of Richmond (at the James River) and Virginia Beach (through the Lake Gaston pipeline) are in the watershed of this area
this is very dirty mining: 1-2 tons of uranium ore to make 1 lb of yellow cake uranium. Of that 1 lb of yellow cake, only 1-2% will be usable as nuclear fuel
or about a 1:4000 ratio of usable uranium to ore crushed to sand

DOE estimates that there is enough plutonium coming from deactivated nuclear weapons to fuel the US nuclear industry for a decade. This uranium is obviously for export (hello national security hawks! Who'll be making them dirty bombs with Virginia uranium?--Rick)
Virginia already has to store 2 tons of spent--but still radioactive--nuclear fuel rods PER YEAR inside the state of Virginia, there is no room for disposal of radioactive mine tailing

if you've ever seen a picture of a dam break on a coal slurry pit choking rivers and streams, imagine it with radioactive waste.

Ben Carneal writes:

With out research where would we be?
Our nation is in an energy crisis.
This is effecting the economy on a global scale. This is not just about us. Instead of listening to those that propogate fear with little or no knowledge, let's look at the big picture. The research will take several years. With scientist chosen by our state, in their specialized fields such as ecology, geology, geochemestry, hydrology and the list goes on. Such experts would collect data and information and only after all data and research is concluded would the advisory panel make a recommendation.
We are talking about rocks and minerals that have been in our backyards for millions of years. The advisory panel proposed for the scientific study would be composed of six legislators, officials of three state agencies, and six private citizens with technical experience appointed by Governor Kaine.
An independent scientific study group, such as the National Academy of Science has as it's number one concern is PUBLIC SAFETY and ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT. It is essential to our country, our nation, that this research be conducted.
The Department of Energy deems the threat of energy security the second greatest threat to America, soon to out pace the global warming issue.
Energy is the fuel that runs the engines of economy in any industrailized nation. In fact, the cost of any goods is proportionate to the cost of energy to produce it.
Again, our nation is in an energy crisis. We see it in the media everyday. Our world is fighting to maintain it’s continuous growth. The economy is reliant upon it. If we continue along this path, without change, according to industry leaders, as our demand for energy outpaces our supply, a domino effect could propel us to a serious tipping point that would plunge us into social and economic chaos.
Again, with out research...where would we be?
Furthermore, let's applaude Governor Kaine's energy plan, where he has the foresight to bring about development of much needed energy sources that are less polluting to the Commonwealth and do not contribute to the greenhouse gasses and global warming.
In conclusion, we should listen to the voice of reason and embrace this opportunity we have and research this glorious discovery that could better our community and strengthen our nation.

Star Womanspirit writes:

There are lots of studies already done....Uranium is a public hazard in VA...there has been no technology developed that makes uranium mining safe.

There are good reasons uranium HAS NEVER BEEN MINED IN A WET STATE LIKE VA.

This will make a few folks rich and will ruin the natural resources of va...there goes fishing in the chesapeake bay....and who wants to vacation in a uranium contaminated environment with a radioactive water supply. There is no technology developed to PREVENT this from happening.

You have 13 billion dollars and lots of lobbyists money in Richmond...the "hell" with public health. We KNOW the Republicans will sell out...but it looks like the Dems are in on the lobbyist money also...Kaine appears to be supportive of this.

This is abasolute madness...if this bill passes....it will be time to look for another state to move to...unless you like having cancer in your family....

Virginia ITSP Association, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Establishes a 15-member executive branch commission to assess the risks and benefits of developing uranium resources in Virginia.

Ben, Mechanical Engineer writes:

According to the Energy Information Administration, over the last 15 years, our demand for electricity increased 17 percent, and is expected to rise an additional 45 percent by the year 2030. In Virginia the majority of our electricity comes from coal fired power plants that emits 7.7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per month, or 24.5 metric tones per person per year.
If you received all your electric needs from nuclear power over your entire life span, your total share of waste would be 2 pounds, equivalent in size to a can of coke, none of which is introduced into the environment, and can be recycled. (nie.org)
Because nuclear power plants generate heat from fission rather than by burning fuel, they produce no greenhouse gases or emissions associated with acid rain or smog. By using more nuclear energy this will give states additional flexibility in complying with clean-air requirements.
In life-cycle emissions in comparisons that examine the environmental impact of the entire nuclear fuel cycle—from uranium mining to used fuel management—the total emissions from electricity production at nuclear power plants are among the lowest of all electricity sources and comparable with renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and wind.
There are European areas that mine uranium safely, with climates comparable to Virginia. In 1990, France shut down its last coal mine, and now receives 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. As a result, the air in France is five times cleaner than any industrialized country, and has the least expensive electric bills in all of Europe.
As energy and economics dominate the headlines, we witnessed last week the Federal Reserve once again cutting interest rates to counter the global devaluation of stock markets. Clearly, we are connected on a global scale as we watched the markets in Japan, Hong Kong and Europe fall because of their investment in the American market.
Although wages are up, so are the prices of food and gas. We live in a community where the unemployment ranks in the top three of our state at all times. The housing market has declined and the growth rate of new jobs has slowed down. There is sincere concern about our economic future on a local, regional, and national level.
In quoting our President from the recent State of the Union address on the Energy Security Bill, he said, “ We must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and
Entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.” “Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil.” “Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions free nuclear power.” “Let us complete an International agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gasses.” “The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change, and the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy efficient technology.”
Observing the debate in our community over uranium brings to mind the stories told when people were terrified that trains would cause infant deaths and electricity would burn our cities to the ground.
It's time to stop the hysteria, put uranium in proper perspective, and allow this God-given resource to be put to work for the good of mankind.
The next time you flip a switch in your home or office, take a moment to think about where your electricity comes from. We all know the story of the mad man of the 1700’s, mocked and ridiculed by the public. His friends and neighbors turned away from him as he obsessed over the idea of electrical charge. He later became one of our greatest leaders and diplomats. Benjamin Franklin.

guard our resources writes:

Here's the bottom line. How effective can a study be if Virginia Uranium won't even tell the public how they intend to mine? They have geologists, consultants, historical site info, and they continue to contend they'll "wait for the study." Who honestly believes they don't already know the most strategic, economic way to mine that land? And will a study really give the state -- a state that is seeking fuel for its nuclear reactors -- a clear thumbs up or thumbs down with a precise direction about how to go about mining this to safeguard residents? I doubt it. I'm sure it will be up for interpretation, and look who is going to be interpreting it for the residents of Virginia. I know the prospect of ANY kind of jobs is attractive to that region, but there is a ton of medical literature stating uranium mining is still hazardous to workers (even in 2008!). There are also documented reports of excursions, leaks, etc., at mines all over the world; We may not even be around when the next generation discovers groundwater and/or soil contamination. Can you imagine an open pit ("conventional") mine when Virginia's sometimes severe weather strikes? Any human being who looks at the documented research in recent years with regard to uranium mining and milling can't in good conscience support this and be proud of what the consequences could be for future generations. If you buy into the nuclear industry's "cleaner, greener" PR campaign, you then also support the creation of hazardous uranium mill tailings and all the tons of nuclear waste that will be generated. Ask yourselves, which is better for the Earth in the long run? Uranium mining and milling operations should NEVER be located near residential areas and population centers for obvious reasons. No price is worth jeopardizing the health of residents and the real risk of contaminating natural resources for generations and doing irreparable harm to the environment. I wouldn't call that "hysteria" ; I'm sure folks said the same thing when people lobbied the tobacco industry to reveal that smoking is hazardous to your health. I wonder how many "studies" it took to determine that?

Ben-Mechanical Engineer writes:

Without uranium or radiation, our planet would be nothing short of a ball of ice. Radiation simply means energy radiated outwards. Nuclear fission is not a monster. In fact, Uranium is the dynamic force that drives the core of our planet, and the radiation from the sun sustains our very lives. To harness these powers is to harness the same power that makes our current lifestyles possible.

Uranium averages about 2.8 parts per million of the earth's crust. Traces of uranium can be found almost everywhere. It is more abundant than gold, forty times as common as silver or mercury, about the same as tin and slightly less abundant than cobalt, lead or molybdenum. Vast amounts of uranium occur in the world's oceans in low concentrations. Uranium is in the phosphate of our detergent we use to wash our clothes and fertilize our crops. It can be found in the gypsum that composes the drywall of our homes. The foods we eat have a natural occurrence of uranium, and have been irradiated to prevent biohazards and extend shelf life. Uranium is in the metal alloys of our vehicles (Vanadium), and the soil under our feet.

Radiation is found everywhere from our smoke detectors, cell phones, televisions, and computers, to our bodies which naturally emits radiation. We absorb radiation from the sun, cosmic rays, and our environment that includes everything from our kitchen countertops to the gravel in our driveways.

The average person that goes with out any medical treatment or trips by plane absorbs 360 millirems of radiation per year. If you add smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for a year, you can add an additional 20 millirems of radiation. If you add a two-hour plane flight, add 1 millirem. Some medicines can add up to 400 millirems per year. A single CAT scan can cause you to absorb an additional 70 millirems. If you were a miner who is mining and milling uranium, your absorption would be about seven millirems per year.

As a nuclear worker, I averaged 2,000 millirems annually. I worked on nuclear reactors and was once exposed to seven thousand millerems at one time. That was nearly fifteen years ago and I am proud to say I don’t glow in the dark, have six healthy children, one grandchild and one on the way. I don’t have cancer, leukemia, or any other illness. In fact quite the opposite and in great health for a middle aged fellow.

With the controversy in our community and those who would have everyone believe there are no uranium mines in the world that have mined this mineral safely with the type of climate in which we live, I felt compelled once again to correct this misinformation. One particular mine comes to mind located in Australia called Ranger Mine 3 near the town of Jabiru. This mine is about 142 miles east of Darwin and just 20 miles from the Great Barrier Reef. Ranger Mine receives an average of 62.4 inches of rain per year and subjected to both monsoons and hurricanes. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly. According to Australian National Safety Council, Ranger Mine is in the top 5% of all industries across the nation for worker safety and environmental impact, and was the first mine (of any kind) to received a five star rating. They employ 385 local people as well as support local business. They contribute $27 million per year to the local community. Ranger Mine has nearly two hundred thousand tourists per year and is located in a National Park. They even have a gift shop.

Do you think Walter Coles, would have anything less than a five star industry in his backyard? Do you ever think to ask yourself, if he did not take on this project and had sold out for hundreds of millions of dollars, would another corporation strive for such an achievement? I am pleased to see a local family taking on such a huge responsibility as stewards of this land as opposed to mega billion dollar companies doing as they please. What I don’t understand is why this research bill is not getting the respect it deserves. I think everyone would agree we all want the facts about whether or not this mineral can be mined safely here in Virginia. Without facts, we will never know. Without the research, we will never benefit as a community. This uranium deposit has been quoted as being the largest deposit in the US, so one might have to wonder why anyone would be opposed to the research. Are some simply scared of change, stuck in the “not in my backyard” mentality, or could there possibly be political aspirations and fifteen minutes of fame involved?

I see others making statements about writing your legislators to oppose this research bill (SB525) but I am asking the opposite. Email, pick up the phone or write a letter letting them know you are interested in this research and would like to see this bill passed. Let your local councilmen know you support their decisions. We deserve the facts and we deserve the opportunities and revenue this could bring to our community in so many ways. We have struggled long enough. I sincerely hope you will take the time to voice your opinion before it’s too late for your voice to be heard.

Tim McCormack writes:

Ben, part of the problem is where the radioactive byproducts and wastes are stored. The track record is not good for the nuclear energy industry. Much of the waste sits around in "temporary" containment facilities, which then fall into neglect, decay, and release radioactive waste into the groundwater.

guard our resources writes:

Let me correct you about the Ranger Mine. This mine has been under constant scrutiny and with good reason. You failed to mention the flooding issues, as noted in this article below.

NT Uranium Mine Danger: Heavy rains pose radioactive risk to Kakadu
by Winston Smith
MARCH 5, 2007 - Ranger danger: Heavy rains pose radioactive risk to Kakadu - Australia’s largest National Park faces the threat of radioactive and heavy metal contamination from flooding at the controversial Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu.

Operations have been halted and workers evacuated from Energy Resources of Australia’s mine after access was cut by rising water...

There are serious concerns over the risk of contaminated water and mine wastes from Ranger being spread through the wider Kakadu environment. In 2003 a Senate Inquiry into Ranger concluded that ‘the intense and highly seasonal wet season of the NT makes the dispersion of mine waste waters the main threat to ecosystems’ and found ‘a pattern of underperformance and non-compliance’.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has called for the urgent implementation of the Senate recommendations and an independent review of water and waste management at the Ranger mine in the light of the latest flooding and contamination risk.

“As the flood waters and radioactive risks continue to rise the federal government remains complacent,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney. “For four years the government has failed to implement a set of commonsense recommendations. It has found time to try and dump radioactive waste in the NT and promote domestic nuclear power but not to protect World Heritage Kakadu.”

“This latest flooding shows the real impacts and risks of uranium mining,” said Dave Sweeney. “ERA wants to extend the life of Ranger mine, instead they should be cleaning up and clearing out – this industry is neither foolproof nor waterproof. Uranium mining is not a clean trade. Federal Labor should not consider new uranium mines when the existing ones are leaking, dangerous and deficient.”

Uranium mining consumes millions of litres of water every day and a huge amount of electricity. It generates an estimated 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, and has displaced many square kilometres of native vegetation to make way for the processing plants and tailings dumps.

The uranium is used to generate power in a nuclear reactor, power that Prime Minister John Howard says is "cleaner and greener than just about any other form of energy". But in the rush to embrace nuclear power as a way to combat climate change, the damage uranium mining does to the environment seems to have been all but forgotten.

Australian uranium mines and tailings dumps have a history of leakages and spills; many of the accidents have been minor but some have been serious. The most notable in recent years involved the contamination of workers' drinking water at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory in 2004. It happened when water used during the uranium extraction process was mistakenly connected to the drinking-water supply.

The Northern Territory Government viewed the breaches of regulations at the mine "very seriously". It recommended the first prosecution against Energy Resources Australia since it had begun operating the mine in the world-heritage Kakadu National Park in 1980.

Doctors were unable to advise the workers about the long-term effects on their health because no one in the world had ever drunk such large amounts of uranium-contaminated water.

And then there's this:

A Commonwealth-appointed scientist has urged the Federal Government to legislate to ensure Energy Resources Australia fixes problems at the Ranger uranium mine. The scientist, Arthur Johnston, says in his annual report, released on Nov. 9, 2004, that ERA has become "complacent" about radiation dangers at the mine and has not provided enough protection for workers. He criticises ERA for playing down radiation exposure before properly assessing leaks at the mine. While ERA has made commitments to tackle problems, Dr Johnston believes "measures to address these issues should be made requirements of the company under legislation". (Sydney Morning Herald Nov. 10, 2004)

The list goes on...It all depends upon which reports you choose to read. And Ben, which method of mining are you using to estimate the levels of exposure? Underground, open pit or ISL? And if you throw numbers out there, you should explain your estimate would be based on working x number of hours, x days per week, over the course of 15 years; There is plenty of medical literature available about the health risks to uranium miners.

And I agree with Tim -- If you support uranium mining, then you also are morally responsible for the creation of tons of nuclear waste that will only create a nightmare for future generations to deal with long after all of us are gone.

Cliff and My Two Cents writes:

I think we need to set the facts of this so called “Study” to what it really is all about.

The value of “Yellow Cake” uranium has increased thus mining the material will be profitable for those who own and invest in the mine.

There will not be thousands of jobs for locals; most modern mines employee only a few hundred as in 1 or 2. Those jobs have a turnover and are gone when the mine closes. How many jobs will be lost and people leave because people do not want to be remotely close to a mine let alone a uranium mine.

You cannot contain without a reasonable doubt the radioactive waste by-products in a pond or back in the mine shafts for thousands of years. Geological forces and weather events are not predictable.

Aquifers, streams, and rivers that supply major populations will be subject to radioactive erosion and airborne contaminates that were not present before. Not to mention some sort of natural occurrence that has the clear potential of occurring in the future especially in this region.

Nuclear energy is not renewable and is finite and cannot replace fossil flues. Solar, hydrogen, tidal, wind, corn, and even the new technologies of switch grass these are renewable.

We currently have stock piles of nuclear waste that has not been relocated to containment areas. Why you ask, because there are none available to receive and process and store such waste. The current containment areas are disasters and are decaying each day. This you call environmentally friendly?

SB525 now address all of Virginia. So when uranium mining gets the green light all of Virginia will be a target for uranium mines. The desired material runs along the entire state.

If the “Study” is the only desire then why hire so many lobbyists if any at all.

I am perplexed how someone can say uranium mining is good. The average Joe can search the internet and find current data and information to clearly support that uranium mining it is not friendly for the environment, not to mention the workers and those who live nearby.

Remember nearby applies to all of those in the State of Virginia. Our water supply is limited and a treasured commodity and should not be traded for a select few to get wealthy.

This is clearly about money and is being portrayed as “We know better than you”, “It’s in your best interest”, “Economical growth”, “Less Green House” etc. This is not about how uranium mining is going to benefit Virginia or the Country, [insert patriotic them] it is about money. As they say follow the money trail and it will lead you to the truth.

Just my two cents.

Deborah Dix writes:

Please people remember the people writing supporting the Uranium mining in VA are part of the Nuclear Energy companies and work for Virginia Uranium, Inc (Canadian company, ARVA, a French Company) but are not brave enough to confess to the facts!!

I do not want jobs like uranium mining in my future.

Do we have children and dream of them working in uranium mines???? I think not!!

Remember VA, uranium is all over VA, you may be next!!!

guard our resources writes:

Thank you in particular to Delegates Hogan, Griffith and Abbitt for proceeding with caution and making the people who would be affected by this bill their top priority.

lisa writes:

Ms. Dix you assume to much dear...not everyone who is for research or writes opinions works for Virginia Uranium or any of it's affiliates. Some of us are free thinkers and educated as well.
Once again I see you spewing not only on a local level but a State Level of something you know nothing about.
The research will be done, sooner or later, have no doubt about that, but just as your website with Concerned Citizens have said...you have now shot yourselves in the foot, AND OUR COMMUNITY AS WELL. You have done more harm than good. Now the research may not be done by the National Academy of Science, Americas finest scientest, and our voices will Not be heard.
I don't think you will be thanking your delegates for sending this bill to the table in the future. I know I won't.
As a concerned citizen I WILL push for some sort of research bill to be brought back into the next assembly. For the sake of all.

Irish writes:

Lisa: Please, you don't have to personally attack anyone on this site. It is common knowledge by now that another study bill will be brought forth next session. But it is everyone's hope that such legislation will be designed with the first priority being the health and welfare of residents living closest to a mining and milling facility; secondly, that another top priority is to study risks to residents' natural resources with all the many variables, including severe weather, to account for countless exposure methods; and that the medical community -- not just the state-paid health officials -- will be required to be more heavily involved in conducting and interpreting such a study. This legislation was rushed in and, arguably, was not designed as well as it should've been to place people (not fuel) as the top priority. Had this been sent to the full House without the careful consideration that is required with such an important issue that will affect the Commonwealth for hundreds and thousands of years, we would be asking who exactly had done more harm? I think the Rules Committee members should be commended for stating this needs much more consideration before slamming it through to the House or the Governor's office.

Brian writes:

Does anyone else think it's ironic that the same people who scream and whine about how the world is going to drown in 20 years if we dont immediately switch to clean and renewable sources of energy are once again using FEAR to try and stop people from even studying and learning about the risks and possibilities of developing a clean, renewable source of energy...?

Irish writes:

I'd hardly call uranium mining and milling clean. It's the dirtiest part of the nuclear fuel cycle, besides the toxic waste. And seriously, uranium isn't considered a "renewable" source of energy. And BTW, the people who live within 10 miles of this proposed site (or future sites) are not card-carrying environmentalists screaming about global warming. And no one is using "fear" to point out recent documented studies showing communities living near such sites are at higher risks for various health-related issues, or the documented problems at other existing mines. So if you want to talk about clean, "renewable" sources of energy, you must not be talking about uranium.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Nuclear power also fails the "renewable" test. It is many good things, but that's not one of them. It's reliant on uranium, of which there is a finite quantity on earth. When we use that up, we're all out of nuclear power, just like with coal or oil.

Brian writes:

Contrary to what many people would like to believe, nuclear power has been proven to be exceptionally clean if byproducts are stored properly. Those scary white clouds you see coming out of those scary concrete reactors in pictures are steam, not smoke. And yes, some physicists have argued that it constitutes a renewable source of energy. Why? Because if you do the math the amounts of uranium available are capable of producing (especially factoring in breeder reactors) what amounts to an inexhaustive source of energy for the conceivable remaining lifespan of human existence on the planet earth, making it consistent with the term "renewable energy source" as it is commonly used. No, it is not "just like coal or oil." Coal produces about 10-30 mj/kg whereas uranium produces something like 500,000 mj/kg. With the right technology in place, the capacity is virtually limitless. That is, it would be if we were allowed to mine it. Or at least CONSIDER the possibility of mining it by studying the risks and benefits.

Yes of course people living near proposed sites would have the right to speak out against them when the time comes. But that's not what this bill is doing, is it? Is it proposing the building of uranium mine shafts in people's backyards and appropriating pickaxes? No, it's proposing a scientific STUDY to explore the risks and benefits of a potentially vital resource that could make all the difference in an escalating energy crisis. And surprise, surprise the same cast of characters who use global warming as a political fear tactic are now afraid to even
hear or let people consider the findings of this study. And based on the comments on this bill alone I suspect that this fear and resistance has more to do with some people's blind rancid hatred of anything they think is related to a "corporation" than it does with sound reasoning or scientific knowledge.

Irish writes:

MINING is not clean (and that IS part of the nuclear power cycle). Yes, of course people living near the proposed site would have the right to speak out when the time comes? You mean when a study comes back and is interpreted by a political commission appointed by a state that wants fuel for its nuclear reactors? Gee, let me guess how that study would be interpreted... No study will say it absolutely can be mined without risks to residents' health and natural resources. Mining is inherently hazardous, and throw in the fact that VUI wants to mine radioactive material near homes and towns and waterways -- and in a climate with severe weather -- and that ramps up the gamble a bit doesn't it? How is that a "political fear tactic" or "blind rancid hatred"??? People living near that proposed site want to maintain their healthy quality of life with uncontaminated natural resources. There's no fear or hate involved. Is it right to ask them to sacrifice the sanctity of their land, their water and their health so a uranium mine (possibly an open pit mine?) can be located within walking distance of property some have owned for generations??

Irish writes:

From the March 7 "Energy and Capital" eletter:
"Of course, some will still play the broken record of 'renewables can't meet our demand for power generation.' But we counter that with a DOE report which stated that covering 9% of Nevada (a plot of land about 100 miles on each side) with concentrating solar farms can provide enough electric power for the entire U.S."

varockstar2008 writes:

I would encourage those who opposed SB 525 and uranium mining in general, to check out my blog at www.va-uranium.blogspot.com for answers to their questions.

Windblown in Virginia writes:

Is VUI's mining plan on there? We've been waiting for those answers for months...Actually, if anyone needs to know about uranium mining, they can go to www.wise-uranium.org for specific details about health issues, risks, etc. It's truly a wealth of information and very well organized. Should be helpful to anyone.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

And yes, some physicists have argued that it constitutes a renewable source of energy. Why? Because if you do the math the amounts of uranium available are capable of producing (especially factoring in breeder reactors) what amounts to an inexhaustive source of energy for the conceivable remaining lifespan of human existence on the planet earth, making it consistent with the term "renewable energy source" as it is commonly used. No, it is not "just like coal or oil."

Yes, it is just like coal or oil in precisely the way that I wrote: it is non-renewable. The fact that we have really quite a large amount of uranium doesn't make it renewable. "Renewable" energy is, by definition, infinite. The quantity of uranium is not infinite, therefore, it is not renewable. This is not up for debate.

No physicist or, indeed, anybody able to count, would ever argue that having a very large amount of something makes it infinite.

Brian writes:

Sorry but no, physicists have in fact argued that nuclear power constitutes a renewable source of energy. Again, they say it meets the criteria for being "renewable" because its capacity to produce energy, especially when factoring in the technological ability to reprocess spent fuel in breeder reactors, is in fact infinite for the purposes of potential human consumption.

By your logic Waldo, solar power is also a non-renewable source of energy because although there is a large amount, its source is not truly infinite. The sun's radiation comes from nuclear fusion reactions powered by a limited source of fuel. The sun will one day burn out- did you know that Waldo? So I guess scientists should go ahead and scratch this off the list of renewable sources of energy since its not truly "infinite." Do they? No, they dont- the reason being that the expected production of energy from the sun extends so far into the future that it will meet any possible demand for energy humanity could ever have. The supply of energy, you see, exceeds the potential for Earth to support life. Physicists have shown mathematically that the same is true for energy produced from existing supplies of uranium, and therefore it is said to meet the same criteria.

You may not agree with this logic (or more likely you simply dont understand it) but either way its really kind of silly to post messages insisting the argument doesnt exist just because you dont like where I stand on the bill. The physicists who have stated this know a great deal more about it than you and at the very least I'm pretty sure they are perfectly able to count. So can I. Better luck next time with your semantics.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Again, they say it meets the criteria for being "renewable" because its capacity to produce energy, especially when factoring in the technological ability to reprocess spent fuel in breeder reactors, is in fact infinite for the purposes of potential human consumption.

Know what else we used to have a lot of? Coal. A hundred years ago didn't nobody think we'd burn through all of that. It was infinite! And, so says you, renewable!

The thing is, faux-infinite is not equal to renewable. Bill Gates has a very large amount of money. By your logic it is, for my purposes, "infinite." But if you locked it all up in a box and let it sit for twenty years, you'd find at the end of that period that you had precisely as much money as you originally put in there. And if you burned it all, it would be gone. No more money would appear in the box to take its place.

Earth is a box. Inside of it is a lot of uranium. But it is not, in fact, renewable. No amount of wishful thinking will make that so, and you do no service to advocates of nuclear power by asserting a thing that is laughably untrue.

Sorry but no, physicists have in fact argued that nuclear power constitutes a renewable source of energy.

Well, then it should be a straightforward matter for you to provide a citation of a physicist making just such an assertion. Right?

guard our resources writes:

There's a strong contigency of support for Waldo's argument, for instance: "Nuclear power is not a renewable energy resource; in fact, the high grade low cost uranium ores are limited worldwide. On current estimates they will be exhausted in about 50 years, and that is at the current rate of consumption. The estimated total of all conventional uranium reserves is estimated to be sufficient for about 200 years at the current rate of consumption, but that includes the lower quality and harder to get at ore. In a scenario of nuclear expansion, which is what the proponents of the industry are now talking about, these reserves will be depleted far more rapidly." (SOURCE; MARK PARNELL/AUSTRALIA- http://www.markparnell.org.au/speech.php?speech=109) That's just one source, but I can find many others for you Brian. Uranium is not a renewable resource, and there are a number of extremely educated people who understand that without having the title of physicist.

guard our resources writes:

That should be "contingency" of support...

Brian writes:

friend, Mark Parnell is not a physicist. He is a left-wing politician and environnmental activist from Australia. The very fact that people have come to rely on political speeches such as this as a source of scientific fact is exactly why I posted here in the first place. I find it very, very troubling that people the world round have begun embracing the rantings of politicians as Inconvenient Truth and are now trying to make others afraid of the devastating, deadly consequences of allowing a -gasp!- actual scientific study to be commissioned to advise the government.

waldo, go back and read what you wrote the second time you edited your response. Ive read it three times and I have to say it gets funnier each time. Earth is a box? Ok, fine. Yes, there is a lot of coal. No, I didnt say it was infinite. No, I didnt say coal was renewable- actually I pointed out that is very, very different from uranium in its capacity to produce energy. No, my logic did not dictate that if Bill Gates has a lot of money that this is the same thing as being an "infinite" supply. If Bill Gates literally had so much money that he simply could not spend it all in his lifetime (i.e. he would run out of things to buy on the planet earth and/or would run out time to continue consuming) then his supply of money WOULD be infinite FOR HIM in the sense that it would be endless- in our scenerio he could never possibly run out of money before he ran out of demand for money. Understand the difference? Yeah, didnt think so.

And so now we've reached the familiar desperation point of having one's attack debunked- the good ol demand for citations. Well contrary to what you may have been hoping, finding one WAS a pretty straightforward matter:

"We thus conclude that all the world’s energy requirements for the remaining 5×109 yr of existence of life on Earth could be provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising by as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used."
-Cohen, Bernard L. (1983-01). "Breeder reactors: A renewable energy source" (PDF). American Journal of Physics 51 (1): 75-76.

All you had to do was make a counterpoint to my suggestion and say you disagreed- this would have been perfectly valid as the majority of scientists out there would certainly take your side- but no, you decided to go the same route as the modern environmentalist movement- fingers over the ears, pretending this argument simply didnt exist for anyone who could count when it clearly does. So look, if you really want to continue embarrassing yourself with this, fine- you can start by addressing what I've actually stated instead of what I havent, and maybe explain to me how solar power is a renewable energy source while nuclear power is not. Love to hear it. Otherwise I think we're pretty much done here.

Irish writes:

Let's make this super simple (from US DOE):
"Nonrenewable energy sources come out of the ground as liquids, gases and solids. Right now, crude oil (petroleum) is the only naturally liquid commercial fossil fuel. Natural gas and propane are normally gases, and coal is a solid. Coal, petroleum, natural gas, and propane are all considered fossil fuels because they formed from the buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Uranium ore, a solid, is mined and converted to a fuel. Uranium is not a fossil fuel. These energy sources are considered nonrenewable because they can not be replenished (made again) in a short period of time. Renewable energy sources can be replenished naturally in a short period of time."
(The source? The US government FAQ for kids: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/non-renewable/nonrenewable.html) So I guess all those physicists out there need to ask the US Department of Energy to change its definitions to better suit some folks, eh?

Waldo Jaquith writes:

his is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used.

Brian, your cited source is from a one-page tongue-in-cheek paper. The author is in no way arguing that nuclear power is renewable (hence putting the word in "condescension quotes" and following it up with a caveat that he's using a layman's definition), but merely arguing that, hey, if we're not concerned with the heat death of the universe, why be worried about running out of nuclear energy? That's why the paper has only been cited four times. It's a goof, Brian, not a serious scientific argument.

explain to me how solar power is a renewable energy source while nuclear power is not.

Any argument that relies on the heat death of the universe just isn't really working out for you. Your logic is akin to arguing that there's a great deal of uranium on, say, Saturn -- sure, it's there, but who cares?

I can't make this any more clear, Brian: The fact that there is really a very large amount of uranium does not make it renewable. It will never renew, ergo, it is not renewable.

Here's the bit you don't seem to appreciate, Brian—I favor nuclear power. Both my aunt and my uncle are career nuclear physicists, working for Toshiba designing nuclear power plants around the world. I think nuclear power is great stuff. I'm not sure it's a bad idea to mine uranium in Virginia. But this business of claiming that a non-renewable resource is, in fact, renewable is just hogwash. Just say "hey, there's a lot of it, more than we could ever use." There's no need to go telling stories.

guard our resources writes:

There are a lot of reasons why uranium shouldn't be mined so very closely to residents' homes, and the potential for contamination is one of them. It's extremely difficult to remediate this kind of contamination, and some studies have shown levels actually may increase over time.

Goliad Co. threatens to sue uranium company

Sunday, March 09, 2008; Posted: 05:06 PM

GOLIAD, Mar 02, 2008 (Victoria Advocate - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Goliad County plans to sue a uranium company for contaminating drinking water.

Attorney Jim Blackburn mailed a notice of intent to sue Uranium Energy Corp. It went to the company as well as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday. The county plans to sue under the Safe Drinking Water Act in federal court in Victoria.

"There are a number of water wells that have been rendered undrinkable," Blackburn, of Blackburn Carter in Houston, said. "The notice claims there was illegal underground injection occurring."

The notice states that wells in the Evangeline Aquifer were contaminated after the uranium company began drilling test holes and extracting samples. It continues to state that boreholes weren't plugged and allowed storm water flowing over land to enter the aquifer.

The lawsuit is part of a larger intent to protect the aquifer, Blackburn said. Blackburn must wait 60 days before filing the lawsuit under federal statute. Blackburn plans to file other claims next week.

"Any lawsuit filed regarding Uranium Energy Corp's exploration activities is completely without merit and will be vigorously defended by the company," according to a statement released by the uranium company. The state agency already thoroughly investigated the county's complaint under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the release stated. The company plans to fully comply with the state regulatory process and continue to get the necessary authorizations for its project in Goliad County.

Goliad County Commissioners Court authorized the suit during its February meeting.

Brian writes:

Nice try but no, the paper is not a "goof"- its an article by a professor of physics published in a scientific journal. I think you know this since you ran several internet searches on the citation trying to discredit it. Having done so I can see why you would have no choice but to pretend the paper is a joke, after having claimed that no physicist would suggest that nuclear power meets the criteria of a "renewable" source of energy, when that is clearly exactly what this physicist is suggesting. Since it looks like you either didnt read the conclusion (or are pretending no one else has seen it) I'll post it again:

"We thus conclude that all the world’s energy requirements for the remaining 5×109 yr of existence of life on Earth could be provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising by as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used."

It sounds like you want to make the definition of renewable energy to mean that the source of energy is able to "renew" itself. Thats reasonable, thats why I'm asking you to describe then why nuclear power is different than solar power, geothermal power ect. Solar raditation for example doesnt "renew" itself either- once it reaches earth and is used, it's spent- its not like its bouncing off solar panels back to the sun and then back again to be recycled. Right? The only reason its considered "renewable" is that it appears to be perpetually available and in abundant supply, when actually the nuclear fusion reactions creating the energy are powered by a limited resource that is not renewing or regenerating or recycling itself. This is why I'm suggesting that even though "renewable" contains the word "renew", in the context of classifying energy sources by preferential characteristics, the more practical use of the term is not an energy source than is somehow regenerating or renewing itself, but an energy source that very simply we will not run of (as opposed to fossil fuels). I dont think this suggestion is way off the mark here, at least not enough to warrant the stubborn scrutiny you're attempting to give it.

The larger point here is that there are obviously a great many misconcpetions about nuclear power that I can see even by reading some of the posts on this website. This technology presents one of the most promising and practicial long-term solutions to the energy crisis (and all its related subcrises) stemming on our dependence on fossil fuels. This technology would be far more available today were it not for these deliberate misconceptions, biased political activism, and misleading works of pop-science e.g. "the China Syndrome." Yes I agree that the mining of uranium presents unique dangers (depending heavily on where and how it is mined) which is why we need to be willing to commit resources to carefully analyze the risks against the benefits before making decisions and breaking ground. The fact that so many people are desperate to stop such a sudy from being commisioned to help our government make their decisions is just a little frustrating for me. Ok?

guard our resources writes:

What's so disturbing is that VUI has already broken ground, so to say, by state-OK'd exploratory drilling. More disturbing was just how quickly legislation was proposed immediately after that process began. Any suggested study of uranium mining AND milling needs to be more carefully designed with regard to the complete scope, funding, interpretation, etc., and one that by all appearances (including Saslaw's budget amendment to draft mining regulations) isn't walking up to a pre-determined conclusion that it can be done "safely." Can it be done without putting residents' health and their natural resources at risk? How much risk? Is a little OK in the government's eyes? Or would those same lawmakers be uncomfortable if their grandchildren were living next door to a big open pit mine with radioactive particles that could be easily carried up and dispersed God knows where in these recent 60 mph-plus gusts? Would you want your dairy cows grazing on pasture nearby after several of these "high wind warning" days? I'm glad to see you acknowledge there are indeed unique DANGERS, and a well-designed study may address some of those questions. But will it prevent the severe weather? Will it prevent tailings piles from being any less radioactive? Will it prevent miners from ingesting any toxic dust or gases? This isn't about nuclear power - this is about uranium mining and milling in a residential/agricultural area in a climate that will increase the risks significantly.

just breaking it down for you... writes:

Thank you Brian. Bravo. I do live in/around the Coles Hill Deposit and they are simply drilling to find out the amount of the deposit here.
I dont think most want to see the conection between this deposit and our energy independence and I do believe that there is a lot of jealousy involved. Since I live here and have attended ALL meetings about this subject I can tell you that the majority are driven by fear and the lack of understanding and knowledge of the process. Anyone pro nuclear gets bashed and I know for a fact that threats have been made upon family and friends of VUI. What a shame. Ignorance is not bliss. A little knowledge can be very dangerous. The fact is...people are scared of what they dont fully understand. This area is still about 30 years behind mentally. I dont mean that in a bad way or to insult anyone...thats just a fact. The average level of education here is 8th grade, which is being taken advantage of by the so-called environmentalist. Another fact about the SB525 that everyone keeps forgeting...the bill asked for research. Research people. The bill was ammended to suit all parties involved. So the public would have a voice. I for one am disappointed in our deligates for their behaviors in the House Rules Committee. What no one is telling you...is they changed the wording to where the public would not have a voice...in other words it was a set up for getting it squashed on the floor if it were allowed to be passed out of the committee. Hmmm! I am disappointed that our representatives could not look past their party and make a sound decision for the whole. I am diapointed that they acted like first graders because the speaker of the house getting his feelings hurt. It became Republicans against the Democrates. I am holding my head low as I AM a Republican and I am very embarassed by their actions. I will not, nor will any of my family or friends vote for these people again. This research bill was needed for us to be able to have an active part in the decision making as a community. Now we wont have a voice. I am very concerned about where this part of southside Virginia will be in the next 10 years. I moved away as a young adult to further my education and gain employment that would sustain the lifestyle I desired. Since moving back to raise my family here we have done nothing but struggle because of the "mentality" of the area. I married a brilliant man from Northern Va and because of his knowledge and experience (others are intimidated by this) and because he is considered a Northerner (anything north of Halifax)...we might as well be from another planet...but then I think if he were, he might be accepted better. Everything here is a constant struggle because of the mentality...I had hoped this had changed. This is becomming a retirement community with nothing to provide a decent living for those with families. Average income of 28 thousand. A good ole boy town. Believe me I deal with the "good ole boys club" everyday. Brian...my point is...it does not matter what you say...there will be those that twist and turn your statements to suit their purpose and cause. Don't beat your head against that brick wall...not worth it. Educate your delegates...and bullet-proof all your statements just as you have done here. Again...Bravo!

Irish writes:

This isn't about nuclear power. Never has been. This is about attempts to operate a uranium mining and milling facility within very close proximity to other people's land, homes and water sources. You don't have to be a "so-called environmentalist" to express concerns, and many of the people expressing their very valid points are NOT "so-called environmentalists." To claim the people living in and around this area aren't educated is a pathetic attempt on your part to try to discredit their concerns about health risks and contamination. It is, in fact, their diligence in educating themselves about problems in other communities which have suffered after uranium mining operations that makes their arguments more powerful. And the damage that can be done knows no political, ethic or socio-economic boundaries. And if you want to talk about the good ol' boy system, just how do you think SB525 got introduced in the first place? I, for one, am glad some lawmakers had the good sense to slow things down in an effort to examine how such a study should and could be better conducted to serve the people first -- not a company chomping at the bit to mine while uranium prices are still fairly decent. And until Virginia Uranium Ltd. (a Canadian-registered company) owns up to how it would mine this, I don't think you can cast stones at anyone who continues to express concerns about the potential negative impacts it could have on their quality of life which is already rich in other ways.