To the editor:
I would like to thank Paula Bryant of The Gazette-Virginian for the kind words she had to say about my efforts in fighting uranium mining in Virginia.
I was only one of many in what became a big national issue, and the credit for our victory belongs to the hundreds of volunteers who toiled untold hours over the years without pay to kill this monster.
It was a long 37-year battle.
I was asked to join the fray early-on because of my engineering background by Halifax attorney James Edmunds who had been warned about uranium mining by his daughters.
The health hazards from uranium mining are not self-evident; indeed, they are quite complex, very deadly and irreversible, and it took years of unpaid volunteer work to get the message across.
In those early years we could not even get a resolution against uranium mining from our local chamber of commerce or any public group, city or town, except the town of Halifax.
None of the local business or farming groups would support our efforts, and the city of Danville and the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors were strongly in favor of uranium mining.
Some saw dollar signs, but most didn’t know enough to make a decision. We had our work cut out for us--and work we did, from Southside Virginia we went all across the state to educate other localities even sending busloads to Richmond to spread the word about uranium mining—we did get the word out.
Fairfax County was the first to come aboard after we appeared before their board of supervisors on closed circuit TV, no less.
The city of Virginia Beach came on board next after we took the message there, also.
Today, after many years of hard work, our efforts have finally paid off, and we now enjoy the full support of localities all across the state, plus the Virginia General Assembly and even the federal government with the recent Supreme Court decision.
Congratulations to one and all.
The battle that began right here in Halifax eventually became a national issue, and people all across this great commonwealth and indeed the whole nation owe a debt of gratitude to the many heroes who toiled long unending, unpaid hours to win this crucial battle. The names I have on file run into the hundreds, so it isn’t practical to print them here.
Hopefully, in the near future we can post all of those names on our website wethepeopleofva.org.
I would like to acknowledge the Roanoke River Basin Association led by Gene Addesso and former executive director Andrew Lester who sadly passed away before this crucial victory.
Andrew was a jewel of a guy, a one of a kind, and we miss him daily.
Again, a big thank you to one and all.
And please remember in the years to come: Never let your guard down. As long as there’s money to be made, somebody will want to dig it up. They’ll be back.
But, now it’s time to celebrate—Again, “Thank you” one and all.
Jack Dunavant, Chairman
We the People of Virginia, Inc.
P.S. I also want to again debunk a myth trumpeted by Virginia Uranium and others that Coles Hill is the richest uranium mother-lode in Virginia. That’s pure baloney! They can claim that only because it is the only site in Virginia to ever be drilled and tested — a million-dollar endeavor. There are a number of sites across the state that have higher grade surface ore samples and much larger areas. That original ploy, after being denied by Fairfax County, was to dupe the poor country boys in Southside and then open up uranium mining statewide. It didn’t work.