Following the end of William C. Ostendorff’s term on June 30, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is now down to only three active commissioners on staff.

Ostendorff became a commissioner on April 1, 2010, following a distinguished career as a U.S. naval officer, engineer, lawyer, and policy advisor.

His departure adds another vacancy to the one that already exists on the commission (Figure 1). That spot opened when former Chairman Allison Macfarlane left on January 1, 2015, to take a position at George Washington University. President Obama nominated Jessie Hill Roberson on July 15, 2015, to fill the void, but the Senate has not taken action to confirm the pick.

1. And then there were three.
With the departure of Ostendorff (far right), the commission is left with (from left to right) Commissioner Jeff Baran, Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki, and Chairman Stephen G. Burns. Source: U.S. NRC

In April, Politico reported that because Roberson is a Democrat, she would presumably not be confirmed until a Republican nominee is put forward to take Ostendorff’s spot. The story quoted Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as saying, “I’m gonna make that real clear that … personally I think it’s a good Democrat that’s been nominated, but we want to make sure that they nominate a Republican too.”

Rebecca Kern, blogger for Bloomberg BNA (Bureau of National Affairs), interviewed Ostendorff earlier this month. She noted that one of Ostendorff’s regrets is that little headway was made during his term on a long-term repository for high-level radioactive waste.

Kern quoted Ostendorff as saying, “I’m not a zealot for Yucca Mountain. I’m not politically charged to move toward a Yucca Mountain, but I do know the nation needs a repository and I’ve been very disappointed in the lack of progress.”

According to a story posted by the Morning Consult, he is leaving the NRC to teach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)