Carefully ignoring Fukushima, Los Alamos, Vermont, and Nebraska, a comforting new announcement informs us that “nuclear energy is safe.”
A series of soothing television ads and videos tells us that mining uranium in Virginia would produce jobs and protect us from scary foreigners.
Virginia newspapers carried an article from the Associated Press this week that did not pretend to be anything but one-sided, reporting on the agenda of corporations that would profit from mining uranium while including no other views or any verified facts. The Washington Post did the very same thing. These articles are essentially press releases that have been tweaked. The online versions even include the videos.
We can expect even less actual news reporting than that (yes, less than nothing) to come through our televisions. But these ads hyping uranium mining as a job solution will be aired. And the television networks will consequently view the mining corporations as customers not to be needlessly offended or inconvenienced.
Meanwhile, local Congressman Robert Hurt pays for his own campaigns with money “contributed” by uranium miners; and the Congressman’s father stands to make a bundle if uranium is mined.
Uranium, by the way, is used for four things: producing dangerous nuclear energy, producing dangerous nuclear weapons, producing deadly depleted-uranium weapons, and generating tons of dangerous radioactive waste.
While wrecking the Grand Canyon to get at some more uranium will make more news, poisoning the water of Southern Virginia may kill more people. The town of Halifax, Va., has banned it.
Uranium Free Virginia suggests why:
“Uranium is highly toxic heavy metal that emits alpha radiation and is soluble in water. When consumed, it may cause kidney failure and birth defects. Mining of only 4 lb of high quality uranium ore produces at least one ton (more than 2200 lb) of radioactive waste, known as uranium mining tailings, which contain polonium, radium, radon, thorium, lead and many other toxic elements that are responsible for causing cancer and birth defects. Uranium mining tailings remain highly toxic and radioactive for thousands of years and must be contained to prevent seepage into groundwater, overspills into surface water, and dispersion by air. The task of containing radioactive uranium mining tailings becomes nearly impossible in Virginia’s climate with its high precipitation levels, strong winds, frequent floods and major storm events that hit this coastal state. All other mines in the United States are located in dryer climates with sparse population.”
Thousands of years of danger, to provide what the uranium mining companies claim might be 65 years of uranium use. That seems like the kind of deal only a U.S. president could consider a bargain. Let’s hope Virginia still has more life left in it than Washington.