SELC applauds court decision to uphold VA uranium mining ban

This map shows the proposed location for the uranium mine and the surrounding rivers, which serve as a drinking water source for many communities.

Today the U.S. District Court in Danville, VA tossed out the Virginia Uranium, Inc. (VUI) lawsuit challenging the legality of Virginia’s 33-year-old statutory ban on uranium mining. The decision affirmed the state’s authority to regulate uranium mining and ruled that the federal Atomic Energy Act does not preempt the state in regulating conventional uranium mining on private lands.

“The Court correctly dismissed VUI’s tortured attempt to extend the Atomic Energy Act beyond its proper bounds and upheld Virginia’s authority to regulate uranium mining as it sees fit,” said Staff Attorney Will Cleveland. “This is not only a win for the Commonwealth, but also for the people, environment, and local economies in Virginia that would be threatened by uranium mining.”

This ruling ends the latest chapter in the VUI story, though the company also has filed a separate case in state court seeking to invalidate the ban.

In 2007, Virginia Uranium, Inc. went public with plans to exploit a large uranium deposit in southern Virginia’s Pittsylvania County. If approved, the operation would entail extensive mining, a milling facility, and disposal of massive amounts of waste that would leave a toxic legacy for centuries. The deposit at the Coles Hill farm was discovered years ago, but in 1982, the Virginia legislature enacted a statewide ban on uranium mining that still exists today. SELC remains active in protecting the ban from VUI’s continued threats.

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