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SoBo considers giving another $5,000 to anti-mining group

The Virginia Coalition is asking for a second $5,000 donation from South Boston Town Council in its efforts to extend the moratorium on uranium mining and milling in Virginia.

Town Manager Ted Daniel notified council of a second formal request for $5,000 in support of the Virginia Coalition Uranium project during Monday’s monthly work session.

He recommended council draft a resolution in support of the donation and schedule a public hearing to receive citizen’s comments on the recommendation.

Town staff recommended council carry over $5,000 in contingency funds from the FY2011-2012 budget to make the donation, with a public hearing on that amendment scheduled for the Aug. 13 meeting of town council.

South Boston Town Council voted unanimously in May to donate $5,000 to The Virginia Coalition in its ongoing battle to prevent the ban on uranium mining in Virginia from being lifted.

Council had briefly discussed the issue at its April 30 work session, with Finance Committee Chairman Coleman Speece saying at that time council needed to resolve what it would do in support of the coalition.

South Boston business owner and former councilman Tom Raab had urged council at an earlier meeting to consider financial support of The Virginia Coalition, of which he is a member.

That organization’s efforts are aimed at keeping Virginia’s current ban on uranium mining in place and prevent proposed uranium mining at the Coles Hill site in Pittsylvania County.

The Virginia Coalition is comprised of business and civic leaders throughout Southside, business creators who are concerned about the health of the workforce, as well as the area’s future ability to recruit new companies and employees into the region given the negative health implications of uranium mining. 

The organization was formed in December 2011, with several members traveling to Richmond to speak before a committee studying the current moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia.

From 2010-2011, Virginia Uranium donated $110,000 to political candidates and committees alone in Virginia, according to the Virginia Public Access Project website.

“The reason they’re doing this is there’s a lot of money under the ground up there, and they want to get it out as fast as they can,” Raab told council earlier this year.

Everything and everyone within a 50-mile radius of the Coles Hill site would be affected should contamination occur at the site, Raab warned.

“The City of Roanoke is in it, and the City of Lynchburg is in it,” said Raab.

The Virginia Coaliton includes area civic and business leaders such as John Cannon, Ted Bennett, Nancy Pool, Chris Lumsden, Ward Burton, Brian Burton and Ken Morgan, to name a few, according to Raab.

The organization’s goal in December was to help influence the Virginia legislature to put off a vote on lifting the moratorium for another year.

“That goal was achieved,” Raab pointed out.