By DR. CORBY G. ANDERSON
s a member o the NationalAcademy o Sciences (NAS)uranium mining study panel, Ispent more than 18 months as a volunteer preparing a report intended to objectivelyinorm Virginia policymakers as theydeliberate on whether to lit Virginia’s30-year moratorium on uraniummining. Regrettably, the report has beenlargely mischaracterized by the mediaand mining opponents, contributing toa less inormed public debate than wasintended.Having worked or my entire adult lieas an engineer, and now as a privatecitizen representing only my ownpersonal views on this document, I eelcompelled to contribute some additionalinormation to the debate.We live in a world dominated bytechnology. But behind every piece o it – rom cars, wind turbines, computersand iPhones to an articial heart and thespace shuttle – are minerals that haveto be mined. From the raw materialsrequired to construct these devices tothe uels or the electricity that powersthem, it all has to come out o the Earth.I you can’t grow it, you have to mine it.And, our nation’s 90 percent dependenceon imported uranium is staggering.The United States cannot aord to bedependent on other countries – manyo whom are ar less environmentallyconscious or politically stable than us – to produce energy and materials.So, the main question is not can wemine uranium saely, but rather, howwill we mine it saely?* * * * *
and residentsshould keep in mind that much o theNAS report ocused on the impacts o uranium-mining practices dating backto the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, long beoreany o today’s strict regulations were putin place or modern industry practiceswere adopted.Fity years ago, we had neither thetechnology nor the understandingabout the eects o radiation to mineuranium saely. That is not the casetoday. The NAS report arms that andprovides a “starting point” or Virginiaby identiying internationally acceptedbest practices and regulatory standardsor uranium mining.
What the uranium mining studysaid and did not say
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2012
VIRGINIA’S NEWS LEADER • INRICH.COM
Studies conducted byleading epidemiologistsdemonstrate that today’suranium workers andthe public living nearmodern uranium minesare as healthy as thegeneral population.Uranium is minedsafely with minimalenvironmental impactsthroughout the world.... should Virginia’slawmakers decide to[lift the moratoriumon uranium mining],the people of Virginiashould be reassured thatit can be done safely.