Thursday, July 7, 2011

Uranium Mining in Viriginia?

If you haven't heard, a company called "Virginia Uranium" is lobbying our state legislature to end the 30 year ban on uranium mining in Virginia.Although the mine will be located in southern Virginia, far from Loudoun County, this is a state decision that affects us all. There are arguments on both sides of the issue.

First, uranium is used to fuel nuclear reactors, which produce power without emitting greenhouse gases or any other noxious pollutants. This is much better for the climate than say, coal. We have a nuclear power station at Lake Anna which supplies a significant part of our electricity.

However nuclear power has it's own issues, as the recent disaster at Fukishima in Japan has reminded us. There is also the unsolved problem of nuclear waste. Uranium mining has its own risks, including tailings impoundments and the potential for water contamination. What you may not know is that, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Uranium comes in two forms, U-235 and U-238. As found in nature, uranium is more than 99 percent U-238; unfortunately U-235 is what is used in power plants." So, of all the uranium that is extracted, only 1% or so can actually be used to generate power! Perhaps we should ask Virginia Uranium Inc. where all the rest goes?

Sustainable Loudoun will be hosting a community forum on this important issue in the fall. We hope that all citizens will educate themselves on this important issue and let their representatives know what they think.

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