Today the Roanoke River was included in American Rivers’ 26th annual list of the 10 most endangered waterways in America. American Rivers says lifting the ban on uranium mining would threaten the Roanoke River as well as drinking water supplies in the region with radioactive pollution and toxic chemicals.
The river flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It provides drinking water to more than one million people in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and other communities. Raleigh, North Carolina has also expressed need to use water from the basin.
The River is also a center of tourism and cultural heritage for the region. Once a passageway for the Native Americans and early European settlers, it is now enjoyed by local and visitors who enjoy trout fishing, kayaking, swimming and so much more.
The first proposed uranium mine and processing site at Coles Hill would produce up to 28 million tons of toxic waste. Virginia Beach recently released a study showing that if this waste spilled into the river their drinking water could be contaminated for up to 2 years. The industry, while pushing hard to lift the ban, has yet to release a plan for how they will contain this waste.
This is one of the many reasons why American Rivers and its partners called on the Virginia legislature to uphold its ban on uranium mining to protect the Roanoke River and they are using this opportunity to help mobilize statewide grassroots action to Keep the Ban on Uranium Mining.