Although not officially part of Pittsylvania County, Danville—on the county’s southern border—is its largest proximate city. The population size and economy of Danville have been even more stagnant than those of Pittsylvania County, having experienced two decades of declining growth (–11.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, and –8.7 percent from 1990 to 2000),25 and with a current unemployment rate of 10.7 percent (Table 2.5). Danville’s two main industries have historically been tobacco and textiles, which by the 1980s were no longer competitive with manufacture in others parts of the world (Johnson et al., 2010).
The committee’s analysis of the physical and social context within which uranium mining and processing might occur has produced the following findings:
• Virginia has a diverse natural and cultural heritage. Each of the five physiographic provinces—the Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Ridge, Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain—has distinct geological, climatic, ecological, agricultural, and cultural characteristics, as do subregions within each province. To protect Virginia’s valued resources, a detailed assessment of both the potential site and its surrounding area (including natural, historical, and social characteristics) would be needed if uranium mining and processing were to be undertaken. Virginia’s natural resources include a wide range of plants, animals, and ecosystems, a large number of which are currently under significant stress.
• Statewide demographic statistics mask significant socioeconomic disparities within Virginia. Although the statewide demographic statistics for Virginia are similar to those for the entire United States, the demographic makeup of the state varies greatly, both among and within its physiographic provinces. A comparison of Culpeper and Pittsylvania counties, in the northern and southern Piedmont, respectively, reveals that Pittsylvania County has a much lower education, household income, and population growth profile, with much higher rates of poverty and smoking. Pittsylvania County is currently the most likely possibility to host a uranium mining and processing operation, based on the location of known uranium deposits (see Chapter 3).
• Virginia is subject to extreme natural events, including relatively large precipitation events and earthquakes. Virginia has a positive water balance (a wet climate with medium to high rainfall), and is subject to extreme precipitation events associated with convection, frontal activity, tropical storms, and hurricanes, with the potential to result in record flood discharges, debris flows and avalanches, landslides, extensive property damage, and loss of life. In addition, parts of Virginia do have some seismic risk, and the state experienced a 5.8- magnitude