APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Monday, May 21, 2012

NRC Chairman Jaczko to resign

Surprising news comes from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today as NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko has indicated that he will resign from the NRC as soon as a successor is named. Below, the text of the press release from the NRC.


Statement of NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko

After nearly eight years on the Commission, I am announcing my resignation as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, effective upon the confirmation of my successor. My responsibility and commitment to safety will continue to be my paramount priority after I leave the Commission and until my successor is confirmed.

After an incredibly productive three years as Chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. 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.

During this last year alone, the agency has responded with an impressive focus on safety under my leadership to a number of diverse challenges including the accident at the Fukushima Da-ichi reactors in Japan, and a number of severe incidents at reactors in the United States ranging from flooding, an earthquake and tornados to damaged plant structures and steam generator problems. In addition to this vigilant oversight, together we identified and began to implement lessons learned from Fukushima and completed our rigorous safety reviews for the first new reactor licenses in 30 years.

Throughout my time on the Commission as both Chairman and Commissioner, the agency finalized regulations to ensure new reactors are designed to withstand an aircraft impact, completed the development and implementation of a safety culture policy statement, enhanced our focus on openness and transparency, and enhanced awareness of and worked to resolve some of the most long-standing generic issues facing the nuclear industry, including sump strainer issues and fire protection. Beyond the power reactor work, substantial progress was made in establishing a more transparent and effective oversight program for fuel cycle facilities. In addition, radioactive sources of concern are now fully protected with our new security regulations and source tracking system. We stand as a stronger and more decisive regulator now because of these years of efforts. I am truly humbled by the agency’s success.

Serving the American people as the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been an honor and privilege. The mission of this agency – protecting people and the environment, and providing for the common defense and security – could not be more clear, or more critical. Our collective focus on that mission was, I believe, one of the primary reasons the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was one of the best places to work in the federal government throughout my tenure. The highly talented and dedicated professional staff, including dozens who have served on my personal staff over the years, have been instrumental in fulfilling the agency’s mission.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity of having served alongside the staff for all of these years, and for all that we accomplished together. I am looking forward to bringing all I have learned from my work and focus on safety at this agency with me as I move forward.


This announcement has been met with press releases by Senator Reid, and Congressman Markey (both Democrats) praising his tenure; by Congressman Darrell Issa (who led the quite public investigation into allegations of misconduct by the Chairman) indicating that this is a welcome change; and from the White House, diplomatically indicating that there will be fairly rapid moves to get a successor. Some organizations have also made releases; below is the text of Nuclear Energy Institute's release.


Nuclear Energy Institute

For Release:May 21, 2012

Nuclear Energy Institute Comments on NRC Chairman Resignation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute’s Marvin Fertel, president and CEO, made the following remarks in reaction to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s resignation from the commission:

“In the seven years that Chairman Jaczko has served as a member of the commission we recognized his commitment to set the highest standards for the safe operation of the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants and transparency throughout the nuclear regulatory framework.

“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. This has especially been the case over the past 13 months since the accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan. We wish the chairman the best in his future endeavors.

“We encourage the White House to expeditiously name a new chairman and take steps necessary to ensure that there is a full complement of commissioners at the NRC.”


Atomic Power Review has had quite a number of posts on the situation between Chairman Jaczko and the other Commissioners;

Situation at the NRC (December 13, 2011)

House Oversight hearings - first take (December 14, 2011)

The issue resurfaces in regards to Svinicki reappointment to NRC (April 19, 2012)


Author's Opinion: This move is probably being made at the right time. Chairman Jaczko seems quite against nuclear energy, against the discovery of a location for a nuclear waste repository, and against normal give and take committee function. With four plants under construction, a new round of SMR funding underway (and very likely operating SMR plants in the next decade or so) this is not the time to have a person with an anti-nuclear agenda at the helm of the nuclear regulator in this country. While safety is (and always has been) paramount at the NRC, it is ludicrous to think that any one Commissioner might have an upper hand in safety culture beliefs - and this is the leg Jaczko stood on to explain his behavior and decision making. It may also be no mistake that this occurs right as we get into the stretch of election season.

We will have further releases here as they're made available.

2:30 PM Eastern 5/21/2012

1 comment:

  1. Maybe we'll see the Yucca Mountain safety report now...