Wednesday, August 17, 2011

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: It's All About Politics?

If Japan's Madarame's Nuclear Safety Commission is "all about money", the US counterpart, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seems all about political infighting.

It's Chairman Jaczko (Democratic appointee) vs Commissioner Svinicki (Republican appointee), with a former chairman fanning the infighting.

From Politico (8/16/2011):

NRC infighting goes nuclear

By DARIUS DIXON | 8/16/11 4:20 PM EDT

It's war at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko regularly faces the sharp end of Republican spears for his work to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, but his biggest clash appears not to be with Capitol Hill but with fellow NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki.

Jaczko, a Democrat and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Svinicki, a Republican, have sparred over everything from serious issues including safety reviews and agency budgets to minor items like foreign travel requests.

The tension between Jaczko and Svinicki is so thick that the two haven’t addressed one another in months, sources tell POLITICO.

“There’s been a history of punches and counterpunches,” David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’s Nuclear Safety Project and a longtime observer of the NRC, said of Jaczko and Svinicki. “I don’t know who started it but at some point it doesn’t matter. It takes two to fight.”

... Dale Klein, a former NRC chairman, said he believed the report presented a tamer version of accounts than what was collected by investigators.

Klein described Jaczko’s behavior as “ruling by intimidation” and by cornering his colleagues on agency issues through the media. When it came to Jaczko’s interactions with Svinicki, he said, “While I was there, he would oftentimes yell at her.”

Before retiring from the NRC, Klein said he gave Jaczko a warning. "I had told him early on, several times, that the title is chairman — not dictator," Klein said.

The latest skirmish came last month after Jaczko went to the National Press Club to announce his plan to have the NRC review recommendations of a special Fukushima task force in 90 days. One problem: The chairman went forward with the proposal without convincing his fellow commissioners to support it, and his announcement was widely seen as a maneuver aimed at painting his colleagues into a corner. (Jaczko told the other commissioners about his plan, but there was little to no negotiation.)

Three commissioners — Svinicki, William Magwood and William Ostendorff — quickly moved to block the 90-day timetable.

For his part, Jaczko struck back last week, writing a memo saying his colleagues have a "preoccupation with process at the expense of nuclear safety policy."

Jaczko’s 90-day proposal was “the classic example of what not to do,” Klein said. “What’s magic about 90 days?

"That’s not the way that you’re going to build a consensus..."

(The article continues.)

Consensus? In nuclear safety?

Then Japan's NSC and NISA should be lauded for their exemplary consensus building over the decades.


Anonymous said...

Japan's NRC and NISA may be admirable for there consensus building, but look at the record. Fukushima - most dangerouus plant location near the ocean. Still using dangerous submarine type reactors - Fukushima etc etc. Incompetence before and after the emergency. Lying, half truths, coverups, slowness, on and on. Dr. Jacczo is right to shakeup these sluggards who will drag there asses till hell freezes over (or better boils over). It iss 6 months or so after Fukushima and for the others it is too early to review a report. Things happen fast with chain reactions you had better be ready, don't take forever to implement necessary changes, and skip the politics.

Anonymous said...

"[...]the facility response to the seismic event appears to have been normal." (p.9 of the task force report of the accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi)

is that why they are refusing to consent? there has been radiation alarm onsite before the Tsunami hit....

Ken R said...

The entire NRC and Dr. Chu at DOE belong in prison for criminal negligence. Any radioactive material up to Plutonium-239 has been proven to be neutralized by a technology known since the 80's. A physicist I KNOW personally, did it while working at a nuclear power facility which had tons of spent Plutonium waste. His reward? He was fired, had his security credentials yanked, and ordered to never do that again. He is still alive and capable of setting up systems to NEUTRALIZE ALL the spent fuel in the world, AT THE FACILITY. It does not even need to be transported. NRC and DOE want to make more bombs, not solve the problem. If anyone knows how to get the crooked politicians out of the way, I can be reached via my website. Fukushima is already measuring the radiation of 1,000 "H" Bomb wars.

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