Uranium Mining in Virginia: Pollution Expansion and Environmental Injustice Vs. Pollution Prevention and Environmental Justice

By Ken Ferruccio

The Virginia Uranium Mining Working Group’s review of “best practices” regulations in the Final Report provides powerful evidence for opposing uranium mining. Consequently, the people have spoken against uranium mining, but it seems now the attempt is to override their will.
The underlying purpose of the proposed Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority seems to be to achieve by secrecy what cannot be achieved by transparency—namely, the mining of uranium in Virginia and the establishment of a vast waste management infrastructure for the radioactive tailings and possibly for radioactive waste from other places.
However, public knowledge that waste facilities continue to cause pervasive contamination and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency legalize contamination in their regulatory frameworks to protect polluters and their companies mean we are dealing with one of the most serious internal threats to our nation. The threat is intrinsic to the prevailing model for economic development: uncontainable toxic, hazardous, and nuclear waste.
Because the containment principle continues to fail, Virginians, North Carolinians, their supporters, and other enlightened targeted communities and regions will continue to refuse to be subordinated to a condition of involuntary servitude (13th Amendment) to industries destructive to persons and properties (14th Amendment) and will affirm their right to shared sovereignty over interstate waters and all environmental concerns upon which their lives depend and will continue to resist dangerous waste facilities.
Resistance to uranium mining in Virginia could mean the introduction of waste management legislation that could authorize Governor McDonnell or subsequent governors (1) to make the final decision concerning the siting of toxic, hazardous, and nuclear waste facilities [on the recommendation of a Consortium Authority, for example,]  (2) to reduce public hearings (if allowed) to a purely cosmetic function, (3) to preempt all local sovereignty rights and (4) to authorize the use of force as needed.
The 21st century is between two diametrically opposed and conflicting models for economic development: the prevailing model for pollution expansion and injustice, and a new model for a new world struggling to be born: the model for pollution prevention and justice, a model dedicated to changing the nihilistic view that human sacrifice is the cornerstone of civilization and replacing it with the reality that public sentiment is the cornerstone of a civilized democracy.
As environmental justice and pollution prevention advocates (ej-pp.org), our immediate task is to educate the public while resisting the mining of uranium in Virginia. Our long-range task is to transform the prevailing model for economic development into one that is environmentally, democratically, and economically sustainable.
We cannot construct a moral argument for the mining of uranium in Virginia or anywhere else without creating an ethic that would justify the pervasive radioactive contamination of the Eastern Seaboard and beyond.
The Virginia Uranium Mining Working Group’s Final Report is a about jobs, primarily for an educated elite. As is common knowledge, nuclear energy means the production of nuclear waste, enough to create problems in perpetuity and therefore jobs in perpetuity, but jobs costing nothing less than everything to all those who care about the protection of the environment and public health.
The state of Virginia can be under no doubt that the attempt to mine uranium in Virginia and to establish a waste management infrastructure by preemption of rights or by any other means would cause a Constitutional crisis and a regional and national conflict of the utmost seriousness.