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Hundreds take stand against uranium at fundraiser

More than 450 people came out to fight lifting the ban on uranium mining at a Saturday evening event at the home of Delegate James Edmunds exceeding his anticipated goal and raising more than $100,000 in the process, according to John Cannon, president of the Virginia Coalition.

The Virginia Coalition, a group of professionals and job creators based in Halifax, organized the fundraiser in an effort to raise awareness of the risks to health and quality of life, posed by the project. 

The event included performances by local talent Dane Ferguson and 6th N Main, and guests also were treated to food, local wine and a live and silent auction.  

Educational information about uranium mining also was available to those attending.

Edmunds said the event exceeded his expectations and “truly showed the community’s support for keeping the ban.” 

Potential health risks and stifled economical development due to stigma, Edmunds said are reasons the ban should not be lifted.

The delegate said he hoped those who attended the fundraiser would maintain their excitement and enthusiasm in the fight to keep the ban.

“The ban will stay in place if the citizens work hard to keep it,” Edmunds said. “If we’re wrong on uranium, we’re wrong forever because time won’t heal the wounds of uranium. This is an issue that is different from other aspects of energy independence because the risks are so long term. I am for all aspects of energy independence with exception of uranium mining.”

Cannon agreed.

“We, in Southern Virginia, are being asked to take all the risks associated with mining and milling uranium, with no benefits,” Cannon said.

Guests at Edmunds’ event Saturday evening included some of the county’s most distinguished and prominent officials as well as dignitaries from other parts of the state, all of whom said they strongly oppose lifting the ban. 

 South Boston Councilman Coleman Speece said Saturday night South Boston Town Council strongly supports the fight to keep the ban having made two contributions this year and the previous year toward this end.

“Uranium mining is an issue that upsets our entire way of life in this area,” Speece said.

 Piedmont Environmental Council Board Member Roy Dye, who traveled from Greene County to attend Virginia Coalition’s event Saturday night, said he was strongly against lifting the ban on uranium mining. 

He and his wife, Ann Dye, are concerned about the impact of uranium mining and how it could affect the entire state.

 Ann noted uranium deposits are located up and down the state.

“It affects all of us,” she said. 

The Dyes said they feel events like this are important, so the public can become educated.

 Linda Ausband, a Halifax resident who has a farm along the Banister River, said she is not too thrilled about being downstream from a uranium mine.

 Local farmer Denise Hudson of Hudson Heritage Farms in South Boston said she was concerned how uranium mining would affect property and farm values, and how it will impact the community.

 South Boston resident Corbin Pulliam said, “I have concerns about the impact it will have on the community and the welfare of the environment. There have been a lot unanswered questions to the people in our area.” 

 Al Hartly who made the trip from Ebony fears future generations will have to live somewhere else if uranium mining takes place because “there is no way to clean it up if they mess up.

“I want my son and daughter to inherit the family farm that has been in our family for 300 years and pass it on for another 300 years. If it is leveled off because of uranium mining failure, we’ll have nothing else. If you do the research you’ll see it’s not a good idea,” Hartly said.

 Mike Pucci, chairman of the North Carolina Coalition and representative of other various civic entities, said the North Carolina Coalition is strongly against lifting the ban in Virginia because of the risks to the drinking water.

Pucci noted that more than 1 million North Carolina citizens in several counties draw their water from the Roanoke River.

“All our economy is driven by the river.  Our economic vitality and the value of our property is determined by the water,” Pucci said. “Our schools are supported by the tax revenue along Lake Gaston, and our water supplies one million more people in the Tidewater region.”

 Pucci declared water is the heart of the issue.

“This water supply is the lifeline to everything we hold dear. Radiation is forever. The risks of a mining operation in this location exceeds the benefits and offers anyone down stream nothing but misery,” Pucci said.