BOX NS.1. What Is Uranium?

Uranium is a radioactive element found at low concentrations in virtually all rock, soil, and seawater. Significant concentrations of uranium can occur in phosphate rock deposits and minerals such as pitchblende and uraninite.


FIGURE NS.1 Photograph shows sample of the uranium-containing mineral uraninite. SOURCE. Photograph by Andrew Silver, Brigham Young University. Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

aspects of mining and processing Virginia’s uranium resources. Additional letters supporting this request were received from U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb and from Governor Kaine. The National Research Council study was funded under a contract with the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Funding for the study was provided to Virginia Tech by Virginia Uranium, Inc. The expert members of the National Research Council committee served as volunteers, without payment for their time, for the 18-month period during which the study was conducted.

The resulting report is intended to provide an independent scientific and technical review to inform the public and the Virginia legislature. The report does not focus on the Coles Hill deposit, but instead considers uranium mining, processing, and reclamation in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole. The committee was not asked to consider the benefits of uranium mining either to the nation or to the local economy, nor was it asked to assess the relative risks of uranium mining compared with the mining and processing of other energy sources, for example coal. The committee was also not asked to make any recommendations about whether or not uranium mining should be permitted in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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