News | May 17, 2011

Uranium mining threat puts Roanoke River on America’s “10 Most Endangered Rivers”

The threat of proposed uranium mining, milling and waste disposal at a site in the Roanoke River basin in southern Virginia has earned the river a spot on a list of America's 10 most endangered rivers, issued annually by the national American Rivers organization.

The Roanoke flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains to North Carolina's Outer Banks, and provides drinking water to more than one million people in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and other communities.  Recently, Raleigh, North Carolina applied to tap 50 million gallons a day from the basin.

The dangers of extracting uranium ore, which requires intensive use of water and chemicals and leaves behind radioactive and contaminated waste, inspired the Virginia state legislature to place a ban on uranium mining in 1982. A uranium mining company is now pushing to lift the ban and develop a deposit on a tributary of the Roanoke.  Geologists believe there are other deposits elsewhere in Virginia and the East.

American Rivers and its partners called on the Virginia legislature to uphold its ban on uranium mining to protect the Roanoke and rivers statewide.

See the May 17 press release.

Check out the American Rivers webpage on the Roanoke River.