Hope ignites at Yucca Mountain

Roadblocks are normally unwelcomed obstacles.

Unless, however, the roadblock bars one from going down a path it didn't chose or wish to tread.

For Barnwell County and the greater Central Savannah River Area, a recent bureaucratic roadblock has emerged should be welcomed and encouraged.

On June 29, three administrative judges with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- the policy-making federal agency for the nuclear industry -- ruled the U.S. Department of Energy was out of bounds in trying to withdraw an operations application for Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Withdrawing this application would have started the eventual closing of Yucca Mountain, the nation's depository for high-level nuclear waste.

Closing Yucca Mountain would mean sites like Savannah River Site would have no place to ship its nuclear waste. Such waste would likely sit, in limbo, in the state. Other states with nuclear facilities would likely face similar predicaments.

Hence SRS and South Carolina should welcome this roadblock.

In its ruling, the NRC stated that the Department of Energy and the Obama Administration doesn't have the authority to close Yucca Mountain -- which would literally have to be an act of Congress.

One has to wonder how much of the idea of closing Yucca Mountain was policy and how much was politics within the Obama Administration.

Nevada's U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has been a long-time critic of Yucca Mountain's operations, claiming it could have a negative effect on the Las Vegas gambling and tourism industries.

Reid is also one of Obama's staunchest supporters.

Now up for reelection, Reid trails in the polls and faces Sharron Angle, a Republican challenger with a nearly $1.5 million political war chest. She has also served on Nevada's High Level Radioactive Waste Commission.

Regardless of the politics in the Nevada desert, Barnwell County should applaud the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its decision, which will hopefully steer federal policies toward a course more helpful to the nuclear industry.