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Controversial NRC chief to step down

May. 21, 2012 - 02:44PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is leaving his post as soon as a replacement wins Senate confirmation.

“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,” Jaczko said in a statement posted Monday on the commission’s website. He did not say what that forum will be or give any other reason for cutting short his term, which is otherwise set to expire in June 2013.

At a congressional hearing last December, Jaczko came under fire from the other four commissioners, who accused him of attempting to restrict their access to information and mistreating professional staff members. Jaczko denied the accusations, saying that he was “passionate” about safety. He also denied any plans to resign.

“I continue to believe that under my leadership, the agency has performed very well,” Jaczko said. “We have committed ourselves to safety, and I believe my record shows that.”

He sounded a similar note Monday, singling out the commission’s work on regulations to ensure that new reactors can withstand an aircraft hit and other efforts to add more openness to its oversight mission. “We stand as a stronger and more decisive regulator now because of these years of efforts,” he said.

Jaczko, an NRC member since January 2005, was named chairman in 2009 by President Obama. He previously served both as appropriations director and science policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“His work toward a safe and effective nuclear energy policy has left Nevada and the nation more secure,” Reid said in a separate statement. “I am confident whomever replaces Chairman Jaczko will share his commitment to protecting the safety of the American people over the interests of a single industry.”

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