National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

Uranium Mining in Virginia

Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia









Committee on Uranium Mining in Virginia

Committee on Earth Resources

Board on Earth Sciences and Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES



THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS   500 Fifth Street, NW   Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by a grant from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with funding provided by Virginia Uranium, Inc. The opinions, findings, and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the study sponsors.

International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-22087-3
International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-22087-4

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Cover: Cover design by Michael Dudzik; map copyright Map Resources.

Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

COMMITTEE ON URANIUM MINING IN VIRGINIA

PAUL A. LOCKE, Chair, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

CORBY G. ANDERSON, Colorado School of Mines, Golden

LAWRENCE W. BARNTHOUSE, LWB Environmental Services, Inc., Hamilton, Ohio

PAUL D. BLANC, University of California, San Francisco

SCOTT C. BROOKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee

PATRICIA A. BUFFLER, IOM, University of California, Berkeley

MICHEL CUNEY, Nancy Université, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Vandoeuvre, France

PETER L. deFUR, Environmental Stewardship Concepts, Henrico, Virginia

MARY R. ENGLISH, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

KEITH N. ESHLEMAN, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, Frostburg

R. WILLIAM FIELD, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City

JILL LIPOTI, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton

HENRY A. SCHNELL, AREVA NC (retired), British Columbia, Canada

JEFFREY J. WONG, California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento

National Research Council Staff

DAVID A. FEARY, Study Director

DEBORAH GLICKSON, Senior Program Officer

STEPHANIE JOHNSON, Senior Program Officer

SOLMAZ SPENCE, Communications Officer

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Financial and Research Associate

PENELOPE GIBBS, Senior Program Associate

COURTNEY R. GIBBS, Program Associate

JASON R. ORTEGO, Research Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

COMMITTEE ON EARTH RESOURCES

CLAYTON R. NICHOLS, Chair, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (retired), Ocean Park, Washington

SARA J. BANASZAK, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Washington, D.C.

JAMES A. BRIERLEY, Brierley Consultancy LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

THURE CERLING, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

ELAINE T. CULLEN, National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, Spokane Research Laboratory (retired), Chattaroy, Washington

DONALD JUCKETT, American Association for Petroleum Geologists (retired), Springfield, Virginia

ANN S. MAEST, Stratus Consulting, Boulder, Colorado

LELAND L. “ROY” MINK, U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Program (retired), Worley, Idaho

MARY M. POULTON, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

ARTHUR W. RAY, Wiley Environmental Strategies, Columbia, Maryland

RICHARD J. SWEIGARD, University of Kentucky, Lexington

ELIZABETH J. WILSON, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

National Research Council Staff

ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Financial and Research Associate

ERIC J. EDKIN, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES

CORALE L. BRIERLEY, Chair, Brierley Consultancy LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

WILLIAM E. DIETRICH, University of California, Berkeley

WILLIAM. L. GRAF, University of South Carolina, Columbia

RUSSELL J. HEMLEY, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.

MURRAY W. HITZMAN, Colorado School of Mines, Golden

EDWARD KAVAZANJIAN, Jr., Arizona State University, Tempe

DAVID R. MAIDMENT, University of Texas, Austin

ROBERT B. MCMASTER, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

M. MEGHAN MILLER, UNAVCO, Inc., Boulder, Colorado

ISABEL P. MONTAÑEZ, University of California, Davis

CLAUDIA INÉS MORA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico

BRIJ M. MOUDGIL, University of Florida, Gainesville

CLAYTON R. NICHOLS, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (retired), Ocean Park, Washington

HENRY N. POLLACK, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

DAVID T. SANDWELL, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla

PETER M. SHEARER, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla

REGINAL SPILLER, Azimuth Investments LLC, Texas

TERRY C. WALLACE, Jr., Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico

National Research Council Staff

ANTHONY R. de SOUZA, Director (until April 2012)

ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Director (from April 2012)

DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer

ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer

SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Senior Program Officer

MARK D. LANGE, Program Officer

JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Financial and Administrative Associate

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Financial and Research Associate

JASON R. ORTEGO, Research Associate

COURTNEY R. GIBBS, Program Associate

ERIC J. EDKIN, Senior Program Assistant

CHANDA IJAMES, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

Preface

The Commonwealth of Virginia first undertook the study of uranium mining and processing more than 25 years ago, after several potentially commercially viable deposits of uranium were discovered in the state. Since that time, issues surrounding uranium mining have raised substantial questions and have been extensively debated and discussed. In 2009, the National Research Council of the National Academies was asked to undertake this study and address a series of detailed questions about uranium mining, processing, and reclamation to assist decision making by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In accepting its charge to address a highly emotive issue such as uranium mining and its related activities, the committee was mindful of its obligation to provide technical and scientific answers to the questions in its statement of task. In doing so, the committee benefited from briefings provided by international experts, including U.S. and international regulators, scientists, engineers, and others. Equally important, the committee benefited from the extensive testimony provided by the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We received many hours of public input, spread over all but one of our committee meetings, but particularly focused on the two evening “town hall” meetings that we held in Danville and Richmond, Virginia. Hundreds of members of local communities attended and spoke at these town hall sessions. On behalf of the committee, I wish to express our appreciation for the many specific comments and questions directed to the committee at these gatherings. We are hopeful that our report is reflective of what we learned, and that with this report we have managed to help inform the public discussion and debate on this important topic. Although we specifically do not make any recommendations concerning whether mining and processing of uranium should or should not be permitted in the Commonwealth

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

of Virginia, we believe that this report will provide a solid scientific basis to inform those who will make such decisions on behalf of Virginia citizens and their communities.

The need to prepare our report in time for the 2011-2012 legislative session in Virginia imposed a very tight time limit, as we sought to collectively understand the scientific, technical, and regulatory subtleties of issues usually outside our specific disciplines. As we started the committee process, we realized that it would not be possible, considering the breadth of the task statement and the time constraints, to prepare a scientifically and technically dense treatise. I thank the committee for rising to the challenge and preparing a report that we hope will be—as much as possible given the specialized nature of its content—accessible to legislators and the wider public who are interested in this topic. I would also like to thank the committee members for their thoughtful deliberations and willingness to consider alternative viewpoints and learn from, and share, expertise across disciplines.

Finally, the committee acknowledges the support provided by the National Research Council staff, who handled our numerous and sometimes challenging logistic and research demands. In particular, the committee would like to thank Deborah Glickson, Jason Ortego, and Solmaz Spence for contributing to the report writing and research efforts, and Courtney Gibbs and Penelope Gibbs for making sure that our meetings ran without a hitch. Stephanie Johnson added her scholarship and organizational skills and, by doing so, improved our work. Anthony de Souza provided the committee with his valuable perspective and experience.

Special thanks and praise go to two staff members who were instrumental to this report. Nicholas Rogers played a key role in almost all aspects of this project as a researcher and financial manager. And David Feary, our study director, kept the committee on track and moving in the right direction. The committee is indebted to him for his hard work and leadership.

Paul A. Locke, Chair                                  

Committee on Uranium Mining in Virginia

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

Acknowledgments

This report was greatly enhanced by all those who made presentations to the committee at the public committee meetings, both the speakers specifically invited by the committee to make presentations as well as the numerous interested citizens who provided their perspectives and viewpoints. The presentations and discussions at these meetings provided invaluable input and context for the committee’s deliberations. The provision of additional text and figures by William Lassetter, Theresa McClenaghan, Jim Neton, and Maria Angelica Zamora-Duran are also gratefully acknowledged.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

Jan Beyea, Consulting in the Public Interest, Lambertville, New Jersey

Corale L. Brierley, Brierley Consulting, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Philip Egidi, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Grand Junction, Colorado

Rodney C. Ewing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

John Greeves, JTG Consulting, Frederick, Maryland

Kelvin Gregory, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

David C. Kocher, SENES Oak Ridge, Inc., Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

Craig Little, Tow Lines Inc., Grand Junction, Colorado

Robert Pierson, Independent Consultant, Walkersville, West Virginia

Samuel B. Romberger, Colorado School of Mines, Golden

Jonathan M. Samet, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

William H. Schlesinger, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York

Courtney Young, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dianne R. Nielson, energy and environmental policy consultant, and Chris G. Whipple, ENVIRON International Corporation. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R1
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R2
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R3
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R5
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R6
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R7
Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R10
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R11
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R12
Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R13
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13266.
×
Page R14
Next: Summary »
Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia Get This Book
×
 Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia
Buy Paperback | $64.00
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Uranium mining in the Commonwealth of Virginia has been prohibited since 1982 by a state moratorium, although approval for restricted uranium exploration in the state was granted in 2007. Uranium Mining in Virginia examines the scientific, technical, environmental, human health and safety, and regulatory aspects of uranium mining, milling, and processing as they relate to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of assisting the Commonwealth to determine whether uranium mining, milling, and processing can be undertaken in a manner that safeguards the environment, natural and historic resources, agricultural lands, and the health and well-being of its citizens. According to this report, if Virginia lifts its moratorium, there are "steep hurdles to be surmounted" before mining and processing could take place within a regulatory setting that appropriately protects workers, the public, and the environment, especially given that the state has no experience regulating mining and processing of the radioactive element. The authoring committee was not asked to recommend whether uranium mining should be permitted, or to consider the potential benefits to the state were uranium mining to be pursued. It also was not asked to compare the relative risks of uranium mining to the mining of other fuels such as coal. This book will be of interest to decision makers at the state and local level, the energy industry, and concerned citizens.

READ FREE ONLINE

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!