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- Our opening two items focus on nuclear energy and its implications for water. First, in a February speech to shareholders, Virginia Uranium, Inc., executive vice-president Walter Coles said that members of the Virginia General Assembly will introduce legislation in 2012 to direct the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to develop regulations for uranium mining. If passed, such legislation would effectively end Virginia’s 29-year ban on uranium mining. Virginia Uranium is seeking to mine a 3000-acre area in Pittsylvania County. A National Academy of Sciences committee is studying the possible health and environmental impacts of mining uranium in Virginia, with a report expected in December 2011. News source: Uranium executive wants to end Va. mining ban in 2012, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/4/11.
- Second, various tracks continue in Dominion Virginia Power’s application for a permit for a third nuclear reactor at the North Anna Nuclear Power Station. On March 3, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or NRC), heard arguments in the challenge by Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League to Dominion’s application. The group has called for more review of the proposed reactor’s expected water use and has raised concerns about potential earthquake activity in the area. Meanwhile, NRC staff are preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement; the agency completed an initial statement in March 2010, but Dominion has announced design changes since then. At the state level, on March 3 the Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing on whether the proposed third reactor is consistent with Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program, and on February 17 the agency held public hearings on potential surface water-quality impacts and water withdrawals related to construction of the proposed reactor. News sources: Panel to hear reactor objections, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 2/14/11; North Anna reactor requests drawing heat, Louisa Central Virginian, 3/4/11.
- In mid-February, about 800 gallons of a petroleum material were recovered from a drain at the Pickett Road Tank Farm in Fairfax City. Following other leaks and spills, the latest incident prompted some residents of the downstream subdivision of Mantua to renew calls for moving the facility, and Mantua resident U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly wrote to the U.S. EPA administrator to request an investigation. Release of fuel detected at tank farm, Fairfax Connection, 3/2/11.
- House Bill 1830, passed by the 2011 Virginia General Assembly, provides that farmers who implement and maintain a state-approved nutrient- and sediment-management plan will be considered in compliance with any requirements of Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. Bill enlists Va. farmers to help curb bay pollution, Virginian-Pilot, 2/26/11.
- On March 4, the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal by Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli of an August 2010 circuit court ruling that blocked the attorney general’s request to the University of Virginia for certain climate-change research documents. Virginia Supreme Court to hear UVa. climate records case, Virginian-Pilot, 3/11/11; and Virginia Supreme Court Web site, www.courts.state.va.us (the Virginia Supreme Court case number is 102359).
- And Mar. 22 is World Water Day, an annual event designated by the United Nations and observed since 1993. World Water Day Web site, www.worldwaterday.org.
- As of March 8, a record 165 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles had been observed along the James River during the annual Chesapeake Bay area eagle-nest survey flights. The survey flights are done by the Center for Conservation Biology, a collaborative program between the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University. Center Director Bryan Watts expects this year’s count to increase as the survey continues during the spring. In 2010, 154 breeding pairs were observed along the James, while over 680 breeding pairs and 900 nests were seen in the lower Chesapeake basin overall. News source: Record Number of Bald Eagles Preparing to Breed, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 3/8/11.
This week we feature another mystery sound: The Bald Eagle
Despite disapproval by Dr. Franklin, the image of an eagle was included in the Great Seal of the United States that was adopted in 1782. Real Bald Eagles, having recovered dramatically from endangered status in the lower 48 states, are found near large water bodies in all of the United States except for Hawaii. They can be seen in much of Virginia but typically they breed along the coast and the tidal portions of rivers. In these areas the birds nest in tall trees, using interwoven sticks, grass, and other materials to build structures that may be quite large, weigh hundreds of pounds, and be re-used for many years. Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for providing this recording. Information on Bald Eagles was taken from the “American Bald Eagle Information” Web site at http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/; the Center for Conservation Biology’s “Virginia Bald Eagle Information” Web site at http://www.ccb-wm.org/virginiaeagles/index.htm (the Center for Conservation Biology is a joint program between the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University); and the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Birds of North America Online” at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings, occurring between March 17 and 23:
- On March 18 at 10 a.m., the Soil and Water Conservation Board meets at the visitor center at Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania. For more information: David Dowling, (804) 786-2291, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Also on March 18 at 10 a.m., the Department of Health’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations Advisory Committee meets at the James Madison Building in Richmond. For more information: Allan Knapp, (804) 864-7458, email@example.com.
- On March 21 at 9 a.m., the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meets at 4000 West Broad Street in Richmond. For more information: Beth Drewery, (804) 367-9149, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Also on March 21, at 10 a.m., the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board meets at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond. For more information: David Dowling, (804) 786-2291, email@example.com.
- Again on March 21, at 3 p.m., the Lake Anna State Park Master Plan Advisory Committee meets at the visitor center at Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania. For more information: Lynn Crump, (804) 786-5054, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- And on March 23 at 1 p.m., the Technical Advisory Committee on the general discharge permit regulation for car wash facilities meets at the Department of Environmental Quality office in Richmond. For more information: George Cosby, (804) 698-4067, email@example.com. The committee is assisting the DEQ and State Water Control Board in reissuing and possibly amending this regulation, located at 9 VAC 25-194 in the Virginia Administrative Code.
- On March 19, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, the Virginia Coastal Fly Anglers present a Fly Tying and Casting workshop. Advance registration is required. For more information: (757) 595-1900; Web site: http://www.thevlm.org/calendar.aspx.
- On April 2 and 3, at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Trout Unlimited, and many other partners present Trout Heritage Weekend and Kids' Days, with fishing, educational activities, and fun. Event 8. For more information: Graves Mountain Lodge at (540) 923-4231, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- And on April 16 and 17 in Waynesboro, LPB Enterprises holds the 11th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, featuring fishing tips, wine-tasting, and music along the banks of the South River. For more information: (703) 402-8338, email@example.com
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Click here for Virginia General Assembly legislative committee and commission meetings. For TMDL meetings, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site (please note that TMDL meetings are also listed at the Town Hall site, but are included among all other meetings). Organizations, events, or both are hyperlinked whenever possible. Click on those links for more information.
Show notes and production assistance were provided by Patrick Fay. Emily Whitesell helped write this week’s Water Sounds and Music segment. Recording assistance was provided by the Office of University Relations at Virginia Tech.
Opinions expressed on this show are not necessarily those of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Tech, or our broadcasting stations.
If you need more information about anything mentioned this week, call us at (540) 231-5463, or visit our web site at www.virginiawaterradio.org.