Gene Addesso: Uranium mining dangerous

December 28, 2012 

Uranium mining dangerous

In the Dec. 26 article “Uranium: Buried treasure or hidden threat to NC water,” Patrick Wales, Virginia Uranium Project director, was quoted as saying, “If North Carolinians are worried about tailings, they should be comforted to know that we’ve committed to put all tailings below ground.”

What he fails to say is that prior to being buried, the tailings must be temporarily stored in holding ponds. During that time, heavy rains, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes could cause a devastating release of radioactive materials downstream throughout the entire middle and lower Roanoke River basin. Also, there is no scientific or technical evidence that burying tailings in the geological makeup of Virginia with high water tables can be done safely.

Uranium mining is a very risky triple threat. First is the danger of radon dust that releases during the process, affecting air quality in all areas within a 50-mile radius of the mine site, thereby affecting public health and safety.

Secondly is the risk to all the natural environmental resources of the basin due to radioactive material contamination in the watershed and the obvious effect on the water supply of hundreds of thousands of Roanoke River basin residents.

Uranium mining and milling have never been done safely and without contamination anywhere in the United States. To think that it could be done safely in Southside Virginia with its population proximity to the mine and the natural geology of the Southeast is extremely dangerous.

Gene Addesso

Acting president, Roanoke River Basin Association

Raleigh

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