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Your letters to the Farmville Herald: 3! in one issue!

Aug 12, 2022 | Letters to the Editor, Metallic Mining, Top Stories, Toxic Trespass | 0 comments

Buckingham residents continue to shine a light on the industrial gold mining problems – and answers. Thanks for speaking out! This is what it takes to protect our home.

The Farmville Herald has published three! articles in one issue! Below you will find 2 letters to the editor (LTE) by Alan Binstock and Frederick MacIsaac; and one Op-Ed by Heidi Dhivya Berthoud.

Please let us know if you would like help in sending in a letter. We want to keep this issue in the public’s eye – at least until we get solid protections in place!

Alan Binstock LTE:

Support rights-based proposal to prevent gold mining

To the Editor,

I moved to Buckingham County about 2 1/2 years ago.  I am a retired architect and urban planner, having worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for 22 years.  I also supported my local community in Maryland which faced challenges to quality of life, as we do now.

Alan Binstock presenting comments to Buckingham Board of Supervisors, July 11, 2022

 Industrial metallic mining in our county should not be on the table as a revenue source. Its true costs to us will far outweigh any benefits. Communities have been devastated by the toxic wastes left behind. The expression – NIMBY – Not in My Back Yard might be used to describe this issue. Well, it’s in all our backyards. No one downstream in the James River watershed would be safe. This would affect not just Buckingham, but Richmond and the entire state. Who will bear the costs of perpetual maintenance of these potential superfund sites?

The county is changing — some say it has been “discovered” — the woodlands, fields and waterways are our treasure. What is best for our future? Hotels? Vineyards? Who knows? Let’s look towards businesses that are clean and economically viable, that would enrich the county, and increase our tax income. That is the reason I support going forward with a strong rights-based ordinance.

 I ask that the Buckingham Board of Supervisors safeguard our quality of life by supporting this ordinance that Buckingham residents have proposed.

Alan Binstock
Buckingham County
Pdf of article

Ganesh Frederick MacIsaac LTE:

Stop gold mining to preserve the environment

To the Editor:

I am the manager of the Yogaville farm which is 6 acres on the banks of the James River.  We water our crops from a freshwater stream that eventually flows into the James River.

We run an organic farm, meaning we do not use any chemical pesticides to protect our crops. We protect them by covering the rows with very thin sheets of fabric that let in sun and rain but keep out bugs.

I know that I will not be manager of this farm forever. I see my role not only as the manager of today but as the steward of tomorrow, for future people who are learning to farm in the naturally healthy way we do.

The more I hear from the experts who are reporting to the National Academies of Sciences Committee for the Study of Potential Impacts of Gold Mining in Virginia, the more I am concerned about the potential harm that could come to our farm from this activity. Research shows that the bonds the mines have to put up do not cover the costs of mitigation and that many gold mines end up being superfund sites.  This becomes expenses that are handed down to future generations of taxpayers. 

I want the Board of Supervisors to not only be managers of the county of today but good stewards of tomorrow as well.  Let’s learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat them. Having a toxic gold mine up the road will invariably impact our water in Buckingham in general, and our farm in particular.  

I was really happy to hear that the Buckingham Board of Supervisors approved the development of an ordinance to protect us from gold mining on July 11th. Let’s stop this idea of gold mining in Buckingham in its tracks, pass the proposed rights-based ordinance and protect us all from the toxic trespass that is clearly documented and would come with industrial gold mining.  


Frederick MacIsaac
Buckingham resident
Pdf of article

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud Op Ed:

Rights-based ordinance to protect Buckingham

On July 11, the Buckingham Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to develop an ordinance to address gold mining to protect county residents from the harms that industrial gold mining would bring. People in Buckingham are asserting their rights to protect their health, safety and environment from toxic harm.  This is clearly evidenced by the more than 800 signatures of residents supporting this petition stating:

We, the people of Buckingham County, respectfully 
request the Board of Supervisors 
to authorize this:

Ordinance Requiring an
Assessment of the Compatibility of Metallic Mining 
With the Right to Freedom from Toxic Trespass

Corporations have the right to stop us from trespassing on their property. We have the right and responsibility to self-governance and to protect our bodies, air, water, and land from toxic trespass that the metallic mining industry would bring to the County. It’s up to us to claim that. In addition, metallic mining companies should “Prove it First” by showing us that sometime, somewhere, at least one metallic mine did not cause harm to human and natural communities.

Prove It First Law is modeled on former Wisconsin law and pending Minnesota law. During the 20 years in which this law was in effect, Wisconsin did not permit any copper-sulfide mines.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a pioneer in rights-based ordinance work throughout the United States, supported the development of this ordinance. CELDF worked with the Town of Halifax in 2008 in writing their rights-based ordinance to protect that community from possible uranium mining upstream in Pittsylvania County.

I therefore urge the BOS to schedule hearings on this bill and swiftly move for passage of this rights-based ordinance. I urge them to invest now in the health and safety of the county residents and environment and stand up to the corporate interests that would likely give the county another superfund site, like the closed Brewer Gold Mine in South Carolina. 

It will be a significant demonstration of genuine concern for the people and environment of Buckingham County when the Board of Supervisors consider and then adopt this ordinance.  The proposed rights-based ordinance is strong and protective. It doesn’t propose that we regulate gold mining in Buckingham County, but rather insists we protect the rights of the people and communities here. It’s not a new environmental law, but a civil rights law for all of us. And it empowers the people living here to exercise their right of self-governance and to decide what risks they are willing to take and which mining projects are just too risky.

To truly stop gold mining, let’s show up and speak up to urge the Board Of Supervisors to get this ordinance passed! Buckingham County residents: Come to let the Supervisors know that this is the kind of protection you want and need.  The next supervisor meeting will have this topic on the agenda (Monday, August 8. Please sign up to speak at 5:30-5:55 pm).

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud I am a member of both the Virginia Community Rights Network (VACRN) and the Friends of Buckingham (FoB), who have partnered in this project.

You can reach me at
Pdf of the article


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