Danville Doctors Sign Petition Opposing Uranium Mining

Danville, VA - A number of medical professionals in Danville are taking a stance against uranium mining.

Danville's Vice Mayor Dr. Gary Miller is the head cardiologist at Danville Regional Medical Center.

He is planning to present a petition signed by doctors and nurses opposing uranium mining, to lawmakers in Richmond.

Miller says he was compelled to start the petition based on his concerns that serious health effects will arise from lifting the ban, but officials with Virginia Uranium say that's just not true.

Now it will be up to the General Assembly to decide.

"I knew at least four physicians who had told me if the ban was lifted they would move from the area, " said Miller.

He announced at a recent staff meeting that he would be starting a petition for medical professionals who oppose uranium mining.

And he was surprised by the number of signatures he got.

"And I've still got people calling me wanting to sign that weren't at the meeting, " Miller said.

The doctor says the signees oppose lifting the ban because of environmental risks that may effect the health of miners and Southside residents.

"...not only the drinking water, but exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals that they'll use to process the tailings, " said Miller.

But Virginia Uranium Incorporated says those concerns are unfounded.

"That's a very disturbing thing to hear someone with his type of credentials say things that just completely are not true, " said Patrick Wales, project manager for Virginia Uranium, Inc.

Wales says there is no hard evidence to support the notion that uranium mining in a regulated environment could not be done safely.

"There is no data to support the types of things that he has claimed. In fact, I've got stacks of studies here that demonstrate that today's mining and milling industry are safe, " said Wales.

But Miller says he's not convinced.

Now, only time will tell if the voice of the medical community in Danville will have an impact on the difficult decision state lawmakers must make.

Miller says he plans to submit the petition to Delegate Danny Marshall for consideration in the 2013 General Assembly.

Patrick Wales says he hopes lawmakers pay attention to the facts and not the politics when they make their decision.