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Virginia Business Leaders Split On Uranium Mining

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A survey of hundreds of business leaders in Virginia has found a slight majority opposes ending the state's moratorium on uranium mining. 

While 60 percent of the business leaders were aware of uranium deposits in Pittsylvania County, few had a clear understanding of how the uranium would be mined, according to the survey released this week by Gov. Bob McDonnell. The survey was the final report issued by the Uranium Working Group, created by McDonnell to size up the prospects for mining the radioactive ore in Virginia. 

The group also said their concerns would decrease if they learned more about the mining and what protections would be in place. 

"There's a big division in the business community about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing," says State Sen. Barbara Favola (D). "Those that are involved in tourist type activities do not believe removing the ban is a good thing." 

Business leaders said they need clear, unbiased information on uranium mining. 

McDonnell has yet to take a position on uranium mining, but State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County) is among the early supporters. 

"They have to go through five years of permitting process with the federal government if we do lift the ban before they can even turn the first shovel," Saslaw says. "So I think that there's more than enough safeguards." 

Uranium mining is expected to be one of the hottest issues in this year's General Assembly session.

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