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Fate Of Va. Uranium Mining Rests With McDonnell

"At this point, the studies have been done, and those studies â¿¿ particularly the peer-review National Academy of Sciences Study â¿¿ have validated a lot of our core concerns," Jaffe wrote in an email. "The science has shed a lot of light on this issue."

With the Legislature clearly not inclined to endorse uranium mining in Southside Virginia, the company that wants to tap the deposit endorsed what it called Watkins' "alternative path" to the governor's office.

"The legislation presented this year was lengthy and complex, but even so, did not address every detail that would ultimately be included in fully promulgated regulations," Patrick Wales, project manager for Virginia Uranium Inc., said in a statement.

The matter will still have to return to the General Assembly for approval, but not this year.

Watkins, who expressed similar sentiments in spiking his bill, has questioned McDonnell's silence on the issue. Miller said he has discussed the matter with the governor.

"He tells me he's evaluating it," he said. "I take him at his word. He doesn't really like to say much more than that."

Miller denied that the appeal to the governor is a backdoor effort to move uranium mining forward, as opponents have said. "They do stuff like this all the time â¿¿ Republican governors, Democratic governors."

Virginia Uranium is seeking an end to a state prohibition on uranium mining that dates back three decades. It requires that regulations be in place. The company wants to mine a 119-million-pound deposit of the ore in Pittsylvania County that it says will bring hundreds of jobs to a region that sorely needs them.

Opponents argue that the environmental and public health risks outweigh the economic advantages.

___

Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sszkotakap.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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