Virginia Uranium Inc. lost yet another legal effort on Sept. 30 to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County.
VUI pleaded the Virginia Supreme Court either order the commonwealth to let VUI exercise its fundamental property right to mine uranium at Coles Hill in northern Pittsylvania County, or to compensate them for taking away those property rights.
Virginia’s Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
Mike Pucci, Lake Gaston resident and executive director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said he has been part of the battle against uranium mining for almost 20 years.
Opponents of uranium mining have cited the risks to water supply, livelihood, and way of life for residents that live downstream from the proposed mine. Waterways that could have been affected by the mining include Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, Roanoke Rapids Lake, and the Roanoke River and its tributaries, Pucci said.
In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court also upheld Virginia’s uranium moratorium, ruling 6-3 that the Federal Atomic Energy Act does not preempt the Virginia law banning uranium mining altogether.
The uranium deposit at Coles Hill, just northwest of Chatham, Va., is worth about $6 billion. VUI relaunched efforts to mine the site over a decade ago.
“The commonwealth has maintained this moratorium on uranium mining for almost four decades, protecting the safety and well-being of Virginians, our lands and our waterways,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “The Supreme Court of Virginia’s ruling today yet again affirms what I have been saying all along – that Virginia has the right to regulate mining activities. I’m glad that my team and I once again were able to protect Virginia’s environment by successfully defending the Commonwealth’s ban on uranium mining.”
Story contributors: Chatham Star-Tribune and Hope Callahan, Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer