NRC Chair Jaczko to Step Down

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Gregory Jaczko on Monday announced his resignation after more than seven years as a member and three years as head of the federal regulatory body. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week suggested that Jaczko could be re-nominated if a successor is not confirmed by June 20, 2013, when the chairman’s first term ends.

Jaczko, a physicist and former aide to Reid, was nominated to the commission by President George W. Bush in 2005. President Obama nominated him as chairman in 2009.

Reid told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate, which is meanwhile tackling the re-nomination of Republican NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, would look for a replacement for Jaczko before the chairman’s term expires. "But if we don’t, Greg will be there for the duration. And if something doesn’t work out, he can always be re-nominated," reported The Hill.
Jaczko’s tenure as chairman has been tumultuous. Amid championing new safety measures following the Fukushima crisis last year, the NRC’s four other commissioners—two Democrats and two Republicans—wrote a letter to the White House alleging that Jaczko was causing "serious damage" to the agency that could inhibit the commission’s ability to protect health and safety. The NRC inspector general later released a report exposing major tensions within the agency, quoting anonymous staffers who alleged Jaczko was creating a tense atmosphere at the commission.

"This is the right time to pass along the public-safety torch to a new chairman who will keep a strong focus on carrying out the vital mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," said Jaczko, who added that he plans to remain as NRC chairman until President Barack Obama finds a successor.

"We have had differences with the chairman on how best to achieve our mutually shared safety goals. But to his credit we’ve always had open lines of communications and a willingness to respectfully discuss the issues," Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO Marvin Fertel said in response to the announcement.

Sources: POWERnews, NRC, NRC IG, The Hill, NEI

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