The Roanoke River, flowing from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, provides water to more than one million people for drinking, farming, fishing, and boating.
However, several companies want to mine a major uranium deposit on one of its tributaries. Uranium mining, processing, and waste disposal would leave a toxic, radioactive legacy in the watershed for centuries.
Unless the Virginia legislature upholds a ban on uranium mining, the health of the Roanoke and rivers throughout the region will be at risk.
Tell Virginia lawmakers to keep the Roanoke's drinking water clean and protected from uranium mining.
As the state tourism slogan goes, "Virginia is for Lovers" of history, nature, local food and wine, and outdoor fun. Uranium mining would threaten these types of established economic interests. Please work to ensure that Virginia keeps its ban on mining uranium.
The Mid-Atlantic is one of the worst possible places to establish uranium operations. Most U.S. uranium production occurs in arid, sparsely populated regions. By contrast, with more than 17 million residents, Virginia and North Carolina have experienced some of the highest incidents of rainfall ever recorded in North America. In the last 40 years, nine hurricanes and other major storms have deluged Virginia. Flooding during mining operations or decades hence could result in an environmental catastrophe.
I am also concerned about the potential health impacts of exposure to uranium and mining chemicals, which are well-documented in global studies of people working in and living near mines, and include lung cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, birth defects, weakened immune systems, hormone disruption, and damage to vital organs. Due to this threat to human health, American Rivers has listed the Roanoke River as one of America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) of 2011.
If the ban on uranium mining is lifted, the vitality of existing businesses in the Roanoke River basin-- agriculture, tourism, hospitality, recreational fisheries, and internationally-known private schools-- will suffer. Similar resources would be threatened statewide and possibly beyond if the industry expanded to other potential deposits.
All in all, the uranium scheme constitutes nothing short of a risky, high-stakes experiment, and should be rejected.