The Virginia Uranium Working Group, the body chartered by the governor to provide a scientific policy analysis to determine if the current moratorium on mining uranium in Virginia should be lifted, is holding its final public meetin tonight.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm at the Virginia Science Museum, 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23220. Baring any unexpected events at my day job, I am planning to take a few hours of vacation time so I can make the trip. I’ll be signing up to make a comment in support of required legislative and regulatory actions to lift the obsolete moratorium.
Uranium mining is a safe and necessary part of using nuclear energy as a competitive replacement for burning coal or natural gas to produce electricity or burning oil to drive ships and submarines. Right here in Virginia, we have a known, fully explored deposit of 119 million pounds of uranium. That single deposit could supply the entire US uranium demand for 2 years. That gives it the energy equivalence, with our current once through fuel cycle, of about 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It has a current value of approximately $7 billion.
Construction and operation of the mine will provide good employment in an area where there are few opportunities for people who want scientific or technical careers. The construction project will require about 1,000 workers, routine operation will require about 300 workers for the life of the mine, which will be approximately 30 years.
Here is a quote from an open letter dated November 22, 2012 and written by Michael Binder, the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission:
Activists, medical practitioners and politicians who have demanded moratoriums may have various reasons for doing so, but their claims that the public and environment are at risk are fundamentally wrong. The provincial governments that have decided to ban uranium exploration have done so ignoring years of evidence-based scientific research on this industry.
The CNSC would never compromise safety by issuing a licence or allowing a uranium mine or mill to operate if it were not safe to do so. All monitoring data shows that uranium mining is as safe as other conventional metal mining in Canada.
The numbers speak for themselves. Metal mining effluent data reported to Environment Canada demonstrates that uranium mining operations from 2007 to 2010 was 100% compliant with federal release limits for all seven types of contaminants. Uranium mining operations were the only type of metal mine to have 100% compliance during this period.
Both the CNSC and provincial environmental regulators closely monitor and analyze industry releases to ensure streams, lakes and rivers downstream of mining operations are safe for people, animals, fish and plants.
We also monitor miner safety. The average annual radiation dose to miners is well below the CNSC annual dose limits, which are conservatively established to protect workers. Radiation doses to the public and the environment near uranium mines are negligible.
It is important for everyone who understands the need for energy, the importance of safe, clean energy, and the need for good economic prospects for young people to do what they can to engage in public discourse about topics like uranium mining. We must not allow people who oppose sensible projects to dominate the public meetings.
If you attend tonight’s Virginia Uranium Working Group meeting, please stop by and say hello. You should be able to recognize me and my new Movember mustache.
Speaking of which, my month-long campaign to raise funds for research for improved ways to treat prostate and testicular cancer is almost over. It would be great if a few of you could make a contribution and help me achieve my goal of raising $1000. As of this moment, I am 73.3% of the way to that goal. Thank you very much to all who have already donated!