A Trip to France (Uranium Version)

Yesterday, the Post published an article on twelve legislators taking a trip to France to view a uranium mine located at a site similar to that proposed for Pittsylvania County. 

Since I’m not going, it’s pretty easy for me to point fingers at those who take trips paid for by advocacy groups.   If nothing else, the trip divides lawmakers from “contested” districts from those in “uncontested” areas.  Because those of us in contested seats are focused on re-election, before we worry about potential 2012 votes. 

(disclosure:  last year, a non-election cycle, my wife and I went to Turkey on a trip sponsored by the American-Turkish Friendship Association.  We bought our own plane tickets but the accommodations were gratis).

Having said that, it’s hard to understand issues like mining, if you’re not able to visit the site and see it with your own eyes.  Since the state will not pay for these visits, you can either accept the trip, pay for it yourself or simply skip it altogether.  Most folks in Richmond cannot pay for these trips themselves. 

The issue is disclosure.

To the extent that lawmakers take trips to France (or anywhere else) paid for by private groups, they are open to praise or criticism by the general public.  It’s all there for public view, and voters can factor the info into their voting decision.

Personally, I think that site visits are key for certain science-based issues.  My visit to the Virginia City 580 mw plant last summer gave me considerable knowledge of the coal industry in Wise County, as well as the environmental impact on the surrounding community and their economic conditions.

Of course, you can do all that and enjoy the beach on the French Riviera this summer.

As for me, I’m heading out to knock doors this afternoon …

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  • LarryG

    Not sure you have to go to France to understand what happened in Piney River with American Cyanamid and titanium ore tailings.

    The question essentially boils down to what would be done with the uranium ore tailings to keep them from getting into ground water and surface streams.

    You don’t need to go to Europe to understand that and even if you went to Europe – you’d not know by looking at the reclaimed land – you’d need to see the data from the monitoring wells to see if the tailings were effectively capped. (entombed) – and for how long they would be …

    If you required a bond that required permanent monitoring and maintenance of the proposed sites – would that be acceptable to all parties including the folks proposing the mining?

    If those folks are willing to set up a permanent fund to maintain the site instead of expecting the EPA to take it over as a superfund site.. that would be a step in the right direction.

    I’d like to see Va legislators say what they want to see in the way of permanent maintenance – because in the end that is what this is about – and often the companies involved in things like this – want the state (taxpayers) to take responsibility instead of their company.

    You don’t need to a trip to France to weigh in on this.

  • LarryG

    oops.. here’s the link to the Piney River superfund site:

    http://www.epa.gov/reg3hscd/npl/VAD980705404.htm

    so my question is – why did the State of Va allow a company to engage in mining that ended up being the responsibility of taxpayers to clean up and are we going to repeat that mistake with uranium ?