US Senator Larry Craig toured Areva’s nuclear facilities in France at the beginning of July. Writing about his holiday, ‘as a guest of its government’ (he means ‘of its taxpayers’), Larry described Areva’s sites as ‘outstanding’.

To describe Areva’s operations as ‘outstanding’ depends very much on what you mean by the word. Last week’s uranium leak was pretty outstanding, if you ask us. It’s a real shame Larry wasn’t around a week later to witness Areva’s ‘outstanding’ response to the leak. Outstandingly bad, that is.

The senator was in France to inspect Areva’s facilities as the company is to build a uranium enrichment plant in his state. ‘I was very impressed with the transparency and willingness of officials to engage in a frank dialogue with the public,’ writes the senator. It’s a shame then that his fine words have since been made to look ridiculous by the incompetence, obfuscation and cover-up displayed by Areva over the Tricastin leak.

Larry also visited the construction site of France’s reactor at Flamanville. He doesn’t seem to have the space to tell us that construction at the site was halted earlier this year because of faulty welding in the reactor’s steel core. It remains to be seen whether safety factors at the site have been adequately addressed. It’s an ‘outstanding’ issue, you could say.

‘Clearly the United States has a lot to learn from our French friends,’ said Senator Craig at the end of his tour. We couldn’t agree more. That Areva are incompetent and can’t be trusted would be a good first lesson to learn.