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Flooding near mine site raises questions anew

SoVaNow.com / January 16, 2013
By Frank Timberlake
Public Relations Officer, Kerr Lake Park Watch
Special to The Sun


A creek near flood stage in Piedmont Virginia near a proposed uranium mining site today brought an emphatic and impassioned demand for the US Army Corps of Engineers to take a position on proposed uranium mining upstream from Kerr Lake.

That request came from Roanoke River Basin Association leader, Gene Addesso, RRBA Vice President and acting President, as he told the group on the weekly meeting/call of the USACE Wilmington District Water Management Stakeholders that previous contact with the Corps has produced no action.

Addesso, his group and many other groups are concerned right now that there is evidence that rising waters of the creek near the proposed uranium site at Coles’ Hill near Chatham are demonstrating that the uranium tailings that would be in holding ponds could flood and contaminate Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River basin.

Addesso said he hasn’t gotten much interest, response or action from the other side of the Corps of Engineers so today he pleaded his case with the Water Resources side of Corps management.

Virginia legislative leaders have indicated they are ready to lift a ban. Addesso said that the stakeholders in the river basin have to realize that there are billions of dollars on the table for the mining interests and that they have batteries of lawyers working to secure the mining permits.

But as the creek continues to rise near Cole’s Hill, Addesso said his group, RRBA (http://prod.rrba.org/) is on site taking photos and measurements to document that the contamination of mining scraps known as tailings could escape proposed holding ponds with flooding similar or worse than is going on now. And the potential flooding there now is not any kind of major event.

Addesso also pointed out that once that kind of contamination occurs, the game is over. KLPW, too, is concerned as one major contamination event, just one, could produce the end to park and lake recreation as it is now known.

“Although our focuses are somewhat different, we are equally concerned about any form of contamination that could jeopardize the reason that over two million visitors annually use Kerr Lake for some form of recreation,” said Frank Timberlake, Lead Officer, Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch.

“Gene and his group are right on top of this and by showing the neighboring creek near flood stage without a major event, he has gotten our attention and our support. We think the Corps needs to get proactive on this and do so now.”

There are a number of online resources surrounding the uranium controversy. You can Google “Virginia Uranium Mining” to see many.



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