Cartoon from the November 3, 2007 Roanoke Times by Chris OBrion (email, website, RT archive), used with permission from Mr. OBrion, who cartoons regularly for the paper, in addition to doing artwork for other clients from his home in Richmond, VA.
In November 2007, I wrote about Coles Hill in Chatham, Virginia in Pittsylvania County, which has been in Walter Coles's family since 1785. Cole's ancestral home sits on one of the largest uranium deposits in the United States. There is also uranium in Orange County, which raised questions when a shale company prosed a quarry there.
Rising uranium prices and the resurgence of the nuclear power industry after federal underwriting in the 2005 energy bill, led Cole , along with friends, family and Canadian investors in Virginia Uranium, Inc. to lobby the Virginia Assembly to study lifting the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia.
If the politically connected Coles has his way, the uranium that lies there will be mined, to his great profit, despite earlier decisions to abandon such mining, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), due to serious questions raised in the 80s and never answered about
where the uranium would be processed, how the mine waste or “tailings” would be disposed of, what safeguards would be in place to protect the environment and public health, how would the facility be secured from earthquakes and floods.
The mining moved one step closer December 8, when the General Assembly's Virginia Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee met and unanimously selected Chmura Economics &Analytics of Richmond from among five other consulting groups that made presentations to prepare a $200,000 socio-economic study commissioned by the state, as required by the Assemby. The company's past experience has been in the study of the economic impact of highway investments and airports. Phillip Lovelace, a Pittsylvania County farmer opposing proposed uranium mining at Coles Hill, said that he was disappointed that a public comment period wasn’t on the agenda for the meeting in Richmond on Wednesday.
I've had contact with Cale Jaffe, SELC's the assigned attorney before--he's been involved in fighting coal plants in Virginia--he's based out of Charlottesville. I'll see if he's available for an interview.