Uranium Working Group submits report

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Gov. Bob McDonnell released the Uranium Working Group’s recommendations Friday on a conceptual regulatory framework for uranium mining in Virginia.

The group’s report does not include a recommendation on whether Virginia should lift a more than 30-year moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia. Last year, McDonnell created the working group to provide a detailed scientific analysis of what regulations might look like if Virginia chose to lift the moratorium.  The report can be found here

The group included experts from Virginia’s departments of Mines Minerals and Energy, Health, and Environmental Quality. 

Virginia Uranium is seeking to mine a 119-million uranium deposit, known as the Coles Hill site, in Chatham. The deposits are worth an estimated $5 billion based on uranium spot prices from November.

“Almost a year ago, the National Academy of Sciences issued a long awaited report on uranium mining,” McDonnell said in a statement. “While the NAS report provided much useful information, it offered very little specific to the issues in Virginia, and left many questions unanswered.  For that reason, members of the General Assembly asked me to task the appropriate executive branch agencies with providing substantial, additional information and to determine what a comprehensive regulatory program for safe uranium mining might look like, should the current moratorium be lifted by the General Assembly in the years ahead. “

Scientists, attorneys and state regulators worked with experts around the country to examine previous reports and scientific literature, visit the Coles Hill site and meet with federal and state regulators from other states and countries to develop the report. The group held six public meetings to share information they had and take public response and questions.

One element of the working group’s report — the examination of socioeconomic impacts — has been delayedbecause of the difficulty in finding an expert to conduct a survey that hadn’t been employed to do work by stakeholders on both sides of the issue. The current contractor is expected to complete that portion in mid-January.

McDonnell said he will spend the next few weekxs meeting with stakeholders both for and against uranium mining in Virginia, view public input and meet with experts on the Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Subcommittee before deciding whether to make a recommendation to the General Assembly on lifting the moratorium.

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