In consideration of the fact that Virginia does not have any experience of industrialized gold mining I am grateful for this much needed study into the impacts it would have on the places we live. In particular I am concerned with the impacts it would have on the quality of our water, air and the numerous ecosystems that we live and interact with. We currently do not have any regulations or protections in place that would protect our health or guarantee that our valuable life giving water and air would be unharmed. Unfortunately I do not see that any amount of regulation would protect us from gold mining.
Industrialized gold mining is widely know as an extremely toxic industry. There are numerous reports of accidents, spills, acid mine drainage impacting waterways, and air borne pollutants. There is without a doubt overwhelming evidence of significant risk to life anywhere a gold mine is located. This committee is charged with looking at impacts and I see this as an extremely critical responsibility. It is my hope that your findings reflect the severity of the impacts which would truly inform any subsequent decision to ensure that life is protected in Virginia. In this day of rapidly dwindling resources, due to our enormous human footprint, we must do all we can do to protect what we still have. When the life giving properties of water and air are polluted it is too late as reclamation is challenging and often impossible. Simply enough, industrial gold mining should not be allowed to locate in the state of Virginia.
Further I see that there would be an environmental justice impact that must be considered. In Buckingham, where I live, there are numerous of gold mining sites and there has already been recent exploratory drilling here. The site that we are aware of is near to two environmental justice communities. Actually a large area of the county would qualify as we fall into a low income classification. ( see EPA, EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool https://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/ ) There is nothing in place in the current regulations that ensures any meaningful protection of these communities. Environmental justice communities have already seen more than their share of polluting industries located near their homes. But no one should have to bear the impacts of a gold mine. Gold mining does not belong in Virginia. It should not be merely regulated as that does nothing to really protect us. The history of modern gold mining has clearly reflected that there is not a gold mine anywhere that is free from devastating impacts and that any level of exposure would cause irreparable harm to human health, our ecosystems, and in particular our air and the water. It is my great hope that your findings will reflect this.
Thank you for your consideration of my comments.