Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced Thursday afternoon that he wants to further study whether uranium should be mined in Southside Virginia, and would not support lifting a mining ban this year.
McDonnell (R) instead would recommend that the General Assembly begin to develop regulations.
A 22-month review released last month by the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering said uranium could be mined, but that Virginia Uranium, the company seeking to mine its site in Southside, would have to protect workers, the public and the environment in Virginia, which has no experience unearthing radioactive element.
The study failed to address the site — a largely rural 200-acre swath — or recommend whether it should be mined. Critics argue that the study was tainted because the company, Virginia Uranium, picked up the $1.42 million cost. The state’s Coal and Energy Commission, which ordered the study, will review the findings and is expected to recommend to the General Assembly whether Virginia should lift the ban.
Many in Richmond expected the study to provide conclusions supportive of lawmakers seeking to lift the ban, but the report instead struck more of a cautionary tone. It also outlined ways mining could be conducted in the state.