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Va. Uranium Backers Take Their Message To Capitol

Katie Preston of Keep the Ban, a coalition of groups opposed to mining, said she was grateful to get more details on the proposed regulations but her concerns were not assuaged by the details released Thursday.

"One of the greatest concerns of the Keep the Ban coalition has been the potential impact on water supplies, not only for Virginians in the Hampton Roads region but also our neighbors in North Carolina, who don't have a voice in the General Assembly and need someone to speak on their behalf," Preston said.

The city of Virginia Beach, which draws its water from Lake Gaston in southern Virginia and is the state's largest city, has been a leading municipal opponent to mining.

One mining supporter, former Hurt Mayor Lillian Gillespie, said she was satisfied with various studies on uranium mining.

"It's my opinion that the scientists have spoken that it can be done safely," Gillespie said after the news briefing. She guessed that the 1,206 residents of Hurt, which is in Pittsylvania County, are evenly divided on the issue.

Miller said limiting mining to Southside Virginia was not a critical factor in his decision to support mining legislation, and he stressed that the final decision will not be before the General Assembly.

"I've been criticized by some people from Southside, and some people from my own district, quite frankly â¿¿ how could you force something down the throat of someone at the opposite end of the state?" Miller said. "Well, we are not doing that."

Pittsylvania County ultimately would have to decide whether to issue a special permit to allow mining, Miller said.

Marshall A. Ecker, chairman of the county's Board of Supervisors, has attempted in the past without success to have the board take a stand against uranium mining. He agreed the decision will likely fall to the board, after a review by planners.

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