It’s nice to be noticed…except when it’s not. Inclusion in The Southern Environmental Law Center’s, www.southernenvironment.org 2010 Top Ten Endangered Places in the Southeast list is hardly the claim to fame any state wants to make. This is ‘triply-true’ for The Commonwealth of Virginia. In a ‘three-peat’ claim to shame they beat out their meridian neighbors by having the most spots named:
*Roanoke & Dan River Basins
Cross-ridge Mining Topples VA/TN Mountains
Coal mining companies across Appalachia are literally blowing the tops off mountains in order to access valuable fuel. A profitable practice in Kentucky and West Virginia, this bottom line mentality is pushing mountaintop removal mining into Virginia and Tennessee. Some say the price is just too high though:
*Mountain-top removal coalmining (cross-ridge mining) has destroyed over 500 mountains in the four central Appalachian states.
*1,500 miles of streams have been damaged or destroyed by this practice.
*The United Mountain Defense points out the obvious when they declare “The MTR mining converts lush Appalachian Mountains into a level plateau like the mesas of the southwest…”
Triple Threat for Chesapeake Bay
From the Susquehanna River in New York to the Atlantic Ocean some 200 miles away the Chesapeake Bay waters flow – 64,000 square miles of watershed supporting 3,600 species of plant and animal life. Unfortunately pollution from three fronts – air, land and water – has taken a toll:
* In its 2009 State of the Bay report The Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the area a dismal health rating of 28 out of a possible pristine score of 100.
*Nitrogen pollution (one-third of which is airborne) is cited as a major contributing factor to the problem.
*If Old Dominion Electric Cooperative has its way Surry County, Virginia (a mere 30 miles from the Chesapeake Bay) will soon be home to the largest coal burning plant in the Commonwealth.
*Such a power plant would spew thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides and millions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air shed each year.
“Glowing” Proposal for Roanoke and Dan River Basins
What do Virginia Beach, Norfolk and small towns in northeast North Carolina have in common? The source of their drinking water: the Roanoke and Dan River Basins. These watersheds could soon become toxic if a Canadian mining company succeeds in its efforts to have the Virginia Moratorium against mining uranium lifted:
*Because of dangers inherent to the extraction and processing of uranium, the ore in the U. S. has been limited to the desert, lightly populated areas in the West. Exposing uranium to air and water causes radiation to be released into the environment.
*According to EPA data, tailings (ore waste) have contaminated groundwater at almost every U .S uranium mill site.
*Lifting the ban and turning the proposed Coles Hill uranium mining site in Pittsylvania County, Virginia operational would not only generate hundreds of acres of radioactive waste and millions of gallons of contaminated water, it could pave the way for other Piedmont mining sites, each with their own ecological and health ramifications.
A three-time listing by the SELC doesn’t have to mean ‘three-strikes-you’re-out’ for the Commonwealth, though. Some see it as a call to action: Eco-Usa.net lists 45 environmental organizations located in Virginia. From The Chesapeake Bay Foundation to the Virginia Chapter Sierra Club (www.vasierraclub.org) this state that bills itself as the place ‘for lovers’ is serious about cleaning up its act.
Sources: EPA,www,epa.gov ; The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, www.cbf.org; The United Mountain Defense, www.unitedmountaindefense.org