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South Carolina editorial roundup

June 19, 2019

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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June 18

Aiken Standard on the U.S. Department of Energy to review waste at the Savannah River Site:

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it was reinterpreting the term “high-level radioactive waste.” That’s big news for the nation, and that’s even bigger news for the CSRA, no stranger to federal affairs and home to a historied nuclear workforce.

The revised interpretation will allow the DOE to classify wastes by their radioactive risks and characteristics, not just their provenance, as has long been the case. Doing so brings the U.S. into alignment with international practice.

Paul Dabbar, the Energy Department’s under secretary for science, has described the reinterpretation as the “science-based approach.”

It should be noted that the new interpretation does not immediately change the landscape. It would be applied waste by waste, officials have said, and only after careful consideration and study.

The first waste up for review, you ask? It’s at the Savannah River Site, our forever neighbor.

The Energy Department is studying whether thousands of gallons of wastewater produced at an SRS facility is safe enough to transport out of South Carolina, pre- or post-treatment. It’s a move that could hasten the site’s cleanup, slash costs and sway similar nuclear sites across the nation.

Six national labs under the DOE, including Savannah River National Laboratory, support the reinterpretation.

It’s also a move we welcome, and we hope it helps move the SRS cleanup mission along. While the new DOE outlook might put pressure on states with storage facilities — Texas, Utah — reducing risk at the site, environmental, for example, is a good thing.

But, with that said: We want the review process to be rigorous, educated and far from furtive.

Renaming high-level radioactive wastes may bring SRS closer to meeting the government’s remediation goal, but changing a name just for the sake of it — or to skirt corners — is unwise.

The community needs to pay attention. This matters to us. Stay informed. By the numbers: letters of support from six nuclear labs, a joint letter of opposition from five environmental groups, including Savannah River Site Watch and more than 5,000 comments submitted on the reinterpretation within 90 days. About 360 of those comments were distinct — unrepeated and unique, basically.

That sort of public engagement is to be cheered.

We still believe outcries of support and opposition can be heard in Columbia and in D.C. Decisions today regarding SRS will impact generations. More engagement on this topic, now more than ever, is something we welcome and intend to amplify.

Online: http://www.aikenstandard.com

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June 17

The Post and Courier on gun control and the 4th anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston:

Four years later, Emanuel AME Church and the nine men and women who lost their lives there in a horrific shooting have become symbols. So have the victims’ families and friends and their fellow parishioners.

They’re icons of resilience. Emanuel has, by any reasonable measure, recovered from such a tragic loss stronger and more unified than before. The church’s congregation has inspired the larger Charleston community to break down longstanding prejudices and reassess broken policies.

They’re emblems of the need for gun sensibility. Since June 2015, gunmen have been responsible for tragedies in other churches, synagogues and mosques in the United States and around the world.

Survivors of the Emanuel shooting have been advocates for an end to that kind of intolerable, unthinkable violence. They have offered their sincere testimonies and their lived experience as a call for change and a comfort for men and women in mourning.

Emanuel revealed the so-called Charleston Loophole, which too often allows gun purchases to proceed without a completed background check. So far, state and federal efforts to fix that flaw have fallen short, but it remains a crucial component of a more reasonable system of gun laws.

The church and the survivors are symbols of the transformative power of forgiveness. It took grace of a profound and all too uncommon sort for grieving family members to forgive the shooter who had taken the lives of their loved ones, especially so soon after the fact.

This act removed what little power that gunman might have hoped to still hold behind the walls of a prison. His mission to instill hatred and fear had failed completely. If anything, it has had the opposite effect.

With grace, the momentum toward a better, more just, more loving Charleston will only accelerate. But that movement depends on each of us.

The Emanuel Nine — and their friends, family and loved ones — are symbols, yes. But they were and are more importantly human beings just like the rest of us. Their strength is not inexplicable but rather a reflection of faith and perseverance.

This humanity is not a frailty but a reminder of the tremendous power for good that lies inside of us. Just as a single, terrible act of a hateful young man reminds us of our capacity for evil.

Charleston faces many challenges. Overcoming them will require cooperation among the thousands of men and women who make up this community, who come from thousands of different backgrounds.

We look to the victims and survivors of the Emanuel AME tragedy as symbols of inspiration. But we also recognize them as men and women. This capacity for transformative love and forgiveness is within us all.

Today reminds us to embrace it.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com

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June 16

Index-Journal on a new approach to ending gun violence in Greenwood:

We’ll gladly take a 90-day cease-fire when it comes to Greenwood’s shootings. We know the ultimate goal of the Pastors and Ministers Fellowship of Greenwood and Vicinity is to bring to an end the senseless and needless shooting deaths, and drive-by shootings that, even when no one is injured or killed, rain fear on residents.

The fellowship is to be applauded for stepping forward not only to take a stand, but also — and more important — wade into the waters in search of real solutions that can make the ultimate goal reachable.

Two vocal members of the group, Adrian Wideman and Michael Butler, readily admit they are not equipped with all the right solutions, but they are willing and ready to work toward solutions. Their approach is logical and rational. First, they know that the people they need to reach, whose perspectives they need to grasp and understand, are not the ones who come to organized public meetings. They are not in the church pews on Sundays.

Will their plan work? Too soon to say, but not too soon to say that it’s absolutely worth trying. Here’s the planned approach:

— Private meetings among clergy, residents and law enforcement in an effort to gather information about pending homicides and shootings. The key: Arrests and reprisals are off the table.

— Have a “spiritual summit” that focuses on single parents, poverty-stricken neighborhoods and other so-labeled challenge areas in the community known to foster lawlessness.

—Third, but certainly not last in importance, is the call for a 90-day cease-fire from “all gangs, territories and communities.” The idea is that a deliberate cooling of the violence will instead allow for fellowship to begin to simmer. And work.

Butler, having served as the city’s assistant police chief and now pastoring a church, is grounded in reality. He knows how difficult any of this can be, most especially a call by his organization for a cease-fire. But he also knows any progress to be made will be made with great dedication and effort. And that’s not just on the part of those seeking solutions; it falls to those involved and affected.

“Being clergy,” he said, “we understand we have to love one another and that’s a lot of what’s missing in our community, is love and ultimately respect for one another. There’s always been differing of opinions and there always will be, but we need to learn to handle it in a different way.”

Amen, and we hope and pray the organization’s approach to this serious community problem meets with great success.

Online: https://www.indexjournal.com

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