EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
January 25, 2012
Deep underground the rolling foothills of Appalachia in Southwest Virginia lies a trove of uranium deposits. These deposits have remained untouched for a few billion years, but high metal prices and high unemployment rates have renewed interest in the possibility of mining the uranium for use in area nuclear power plants. The Commonwealth of Virginia has had a moratorium on uranium mining for 30 years. But in 2007, two families living near Virginia’s only economically viable uranium deposit in Coles Hill formed Virginia Uranium, Inc. to begin exploring the possibility of exploiting this resource.
The moratorium has left a dearth of hard rock mining technical expertise in the Commonwealth. For this reason, Virginia called in the National Research Council to report on scientific, environmental, public health, and regulatory aspects of uranium mining to help inform the Virginia legislature.
January 20, 2012
Part of Skip’s presentation described what companies call the Black Swan for the industry. Unlike the Natalie Portman film, a Black Swan, in economic jargon, is a low probability, high-impact event. These include political instability, severe regulatory constraint, and broad systemic risks. In short, the kind of thing that could devastate an industry, even if the chances are remote. Among the systemic risks, Skip tells us, are seismic activity and detrimental public health effects. To alleviate investor concerns, both Skip and fellow panelist Regina Hopper, President & CEO of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, insist that to avoid these risks, the industry must rely on sound science.