INTERVIEW: Uranium study due out next week

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We could learn as soon as next week, what the environmental impact could be of a proposed uranium mine in Pittsylvania County. The study could go a long way to determining if the General Assembly will lift a ban on the mining of uranium in Virginia.

Patrick Moore is the co-founder of Greenpeace. He left the organization several years ago and now works in the search for "clean, safe and reliable" energy.

RYAN: Thanks for joining us.

PATRICK: Thank you Ryan.

RYAN: Now you're in support of lifting the ban on uranium mining, the moratorium on uranium mining. You consider yourself an environmentalist, Correct? Why do you think this is a good idea?

PATRICK: First, Virginia has 40% of the electricity from nuclear power. So you need uranium, it's as simple as that. So why not mine it here so it's domestic and part of energy security for the future. There's 75 years worth of uranium on that site. But most importantly, nuclear energy has proven to be one of the safest and cleanest technologies we have for producing power. The more nuclear we have the less fossil fuel we use. And that is good from an environmental point of view.

RYAN: What are you looking for to come out of the study next week? What would make you more convinced it's a good idea to mine for uranium in Virginia?

PATRICK: The national academy has looked around the world where people are mining uranium in Canada and Australia. And other parts - that's where the United States is bringing most of uranium from today. I know that what they are going to find. Because I've been to uranium mining countries. They will find uranium mining being done safely today with minimal impact to the environment, and no discernible impact to the health of the worker mining in those areas.

RYAN: Is there anything that could change your mind? I know you talk about the impact on water, particularly downstream, as we get further on to the east coast of Virginia and the uranium filings that are left behind. Does that concern you or could that come up in your report that will change your mind?

PATRICK: They will be analyzing the state of the art in tailings management, the waste that is left behind. And today that is put below grade as opposed to the past where it was put behind dams and could fail. The way they do it now is pretty well impossible for it to fail.

RYAN: Okay. All right. Patrick Moore thanks for joining us. This will be a big debate as we move ahead in the Virginia legislative session.

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