A proposal to end Virginia’s 31-year ban on uranium mining suffered a major defeat on January 31 before a state Senate panel. Lacking the votes to win, Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, withdrew his bill in the Agriculture Committee. That killed the measure for the 2013 session. Mining opponents claimed victory, saying any effort to lift the mining ban is probably dead this year — and maybe well beyond. The Keep the Ban movement brought together environmental organizations, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia chapter of the NAACP and, most recently, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. Virginia has a 30-year ban on uranium mining. The uranium industry made making a well-financed push to repeal the ban in order to mine and process uranium, starting in Southside Virginia. Drinking water, human health, farmland, property values, wildlife and tourism across Virginia were at risk. Virginia Uranium, the company that planned to mine the Coles Hill site, will not likely go quietly, but the proposal is once again stymied for the time being.
Uranium mining is necessary to provide the "fuel" for nuclear reactors (and also to make nuclear weapons). Historically, uranium mining has been carried out on land occupied by indigenous people - who have often also comprised the work force, and who have suffered the health and environmental consequences. High-grade uranium is a finite resource, therefore disqualifying nuclear power from consideration as renewable energy.
INVITATION to CELEBRATE: The Nuclear Age in Quebec is Over! Gentilly-2 is SHUT DOWN! But uranium mining must still be banned!
This tremendous good news just came in from Dr. Gordon Edwards, chair of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, and co-chair of the Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force:
28 December: The Nuclear Age in Quebec is Over!
Join us, in Montréal, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon
On this occasion, Sonomi and her two children-- refugees from Fukushima, Japan -- will be our special guests.
P.S. Québec will be truly out of the nuclear age only when we achieve a permanent moratorium on uranium mining, as has been done in two other provinces -- Nova Scotia and British Columbia!
(Nuclear utility Hydro-Quebec announced Gentilly-2's permanent shutdown, to occur tomorrow, last October. Gentilly-2 is a CANDU atomic reactor which has operated since 1982. The Quebec public will now avoid the wate, and risk, of billions in refurbishment costs, which Hydro-Quebec had hoped to foist upon them, in a bid to operate Gentilly-2 for 20 more years. However, decommissioning costs will now begin.)
CBC has reported on this story. The article reports:
"...Environmental groups applauded the government's decision to shut down the plant...Michel Fugère, spokesman for the Mauricie's Green Movement, said the closure is a 'great gift' and represents 'a big day' for all Quebecers.
He pointed out that several polls suggested more than 60 per cent of the population in Quebec's Mauricie region supported the plant's closure..."
(Note that the article's report that dismantlement of the reactor would take place over the next 18 months is inaccurate. Only preliminary decommissioning activities will take place in the next year and a half; full dismantlement will take decades.)
Researchers plan to study effects of Navajo Reservation uranium exposure on pregnancy and child birth
Three decades after the end of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation, researchers plan to conduct a study in response to community concerns about the effects of exposure to uranium waste on pregnancies and child development on the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Birth Cohort Study is a three-year study on the Navajo reservation. It will provide early assessment and education on environmental and prenatal risks from exposure to environmental contaminants.
In 2009, Congress mandated and awarded money for the Navajo Birth Cohort Study. The money will support the University of New Mexico Community Environmental Health Program as it designs and conducts the study in collaboration with the Navajo Area Indian Health Services, the Navajo Division of Health, Southwest Research and Information Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., director of the Community Environmental Health Program, Health Sciences Center, at the University of New Mexico, is the principal investigator in the project. She coordinates the professional research team drawn from the five agencies responsible for implementing the project.
"This particular set of funding is for Navajo, but this is not just a Navajo problem," said Lewis. "There are 10,400 abandoned uranium mine waste sites in the western U.S., many of those on tribal lands. So I think the information we gain from this study will have impacts much further reaching than just Navajo."
More information on the Navajo Birth Cohort Study is available by calling toll-free (877) 545-6775 or contacting a Clinical Liaison at the nearest IHS facility. Navaho-Hopi Observer