Downstream Impacts

Virginia’s Wet Weather Makes Mining a Risky Experiment.

On February 1, 2011, the Virginia Beach Department of Public Utilities released the findings of a uranium mining impact study concluding Virginia Beach’s drinking water is at risk.  Pittsylvania County is vulnerable to extreme rainfall events capable of generating substantial flooding. Such events could cause the failure of uranium waste containment structures and result in the contamination of the downstream drinking water supplies for Virginia Beach and other Virginia and North Carolina communities.

Virginia and North Carolina Drinking Water Supplies Are At Risk.

The Virginia Beach study shows that if a major waste spill occurred, contaminates would flow from the Bannister River to Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston.  This would raise the radiation level in Kerr Reservoir 10-20 times above the level outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Radioactive contaminants would take two months to two years to flush out of Lake Gaston.  Impacts to Kerr Reservoir would be much more significant and long lasting.

Kerr Reservoir is the primary drinking water source for Halifax County, Clarksville, Mecklenburg and Brunswick Counties, as well as downstream communities in North Carolina.  Lake Gaston is the drinking water source for Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake City.

Downstream Communities Support the Ban on Uranium Mining

As a result of the study, Virginia Beach City Council maintained its resolution opposing uranium mining in Virginia.  Chesapeake City also passed a resolution in support of the existing ban.

Statewide Downstream Drinking Water Impacts

In the 1980′s mineral rights for uranium mining were leased along the Occoquan River and the Rappohannock River.  These rivers source water for Fairfax, Orange and Fredericksburg.

Click here to download a map of statewide downstream water impacts.

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