Saturday, December 10, 2011

NRC's Commissioners Have "Grave Concerns" With Chairman Jaczko

Four commissioners of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a letter to the White House accusing Chairman Greg Jaczko of bulling and intimidating staff and experts. There are 5 commissioners including Jaczko.

The US the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will have a hearing on December 14. The 4 commissioners expressing "grave concerns" with Jaczko are Commissioners George Apostolakis, William Magwood IV, William Ostendorff and Kristine Svinicki. It looks like a political infighting, as usual, and the issue is over the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, in particular.

I don't know much about this chairman, but he sure made the right decision in advising American citizens living in Japan to move out of 80-kilometer radius from the nuke plant.

The chairman is still expected in Japan on December 18 for the joyful occasion of declaration of "cold shutdown" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant by the totally corrupt and inept Japanese national government.

I don't know what these commissioners are complaining about. Chairman Jaczko has said there is no need to tighten any regulation in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster because it was a five-sigma event. Nuclear power plants are safe, and radiation is good for you.

From Businessweek/Bloomberg (12/11/2011):

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is causing “serious damage” to the agency and is “creating a chilled work environment,” his four commission colleagues said.

Jaczko has bullied career staff and attempted to intimidate an independent panel of technical advisers, the other NRC commissioners said in an Oct. 13 letter to White House Chief of Staff William Daley, released yesterday by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“In a long series of very troubling actions taken by Chairman Jaczko, he has undermined the ability of the commission to function,” Commissioners George Apostolakis, William Magwood IV, William Ostendorff and Kristine Svinicki said in the letter that described their “grave concerns.”

Jaczko responded that the commission's majority has “loosened the agency's safety standards” over his opposition. The exchanges bring into the open tensions and conflict within the agency that is responsible for regulating the 104 commercial reactors in the U.S. and is considering applications for a new generation of power plants.

The NRC commissioners are scheduled to testify before the committee, led by California Republican Darrell Issa, about the rifts on Dec. 14.

“There is no chilled work environment around me,” Jaczko said in a Dec. 7 letter to Daley. “I have never attempted to intimidate” the technical advisory panel, and “I do not ignore the will of the commission on policy matters,” he said.

Loosened Standards

“Unfortunately, all too often, when faced with tough policy calls,” the commission majority “established policies that have loosened the agency's safety standards,” he said.

Jaczko wasn't open with colleagues about his intent to stop work on a proposed waste site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, according to a June report from the NRC's inspector general.

Republicans have accused Jaczko of stopping work on the Yucca project for political reasons, which he has denied. President Barack Obama has moved to halt the project. Jaczko is a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who led opposition to the Yucca site.

Jaczko's opponents are waging a “politically motivated witch hunt against a man with a proven track record of ensuring that nuclear power is produced as safely and responsibly as possible,” Adam Jentleson, a Reid spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement.

Japan Response

A report released yesterday by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts blamed the four commissioners for trying to impede Jaczko's response to Japan's nuclear crisis in March.

They “conspired, with each other and with senior NRC staff, to delay the release of and alter” an agency task-force study on the crisis, according to the 22-page report. It is based on documents submitted by the commissioners in response to an October request from Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Jaczko, a former congressional science fellow for Markey, has urged the NRC to move quickly in implementing the task- force's recommendations to improve safety at U.S. reactors after an earthquake and tsunami caused radiation leaks and meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

Markey's report found e-mails and other documents with “high levels of suspicion and hostility directed” at Jaczko. At other times, e-mails showed Jaczko's colleagues “assumed ill intent on the part of the chairman” and tried to “undermine his efforts or refuse his requests.”


STeVe the JeW said...

"I don't know much about this chairman, but he sure made the right decision in advising American citizens living in Japan to move out of 80-kilometer radius from the nuke plant."

it's the only truly shocking thing to come out of the decision to put nuclear reactors on the japanese coast.

Anonymous said...

I suspect jaczko will not go along any further and is now being summarily executed.

If this doesn't work, look for child porn to be planted on his work computer..

Mauibrad said...

There is another side to this story that the 4 commissioners were trying to head off:
Dec. 9, 2011: New Report Details Conspiracy to Delay, Weaken US Nuclear Safety in Wake of Fukushima
“Regulatory Meltdown” Reveals Efforts to Improve Nuclear Safety Undermined by Four NRC Commissioners


Sen. Reid slams ‘witch hunt,’ complaints against nuclear agency chief Jaczko

Jaczko's actually trying to be the good guy.

Anonymous said...

read the Markey report - the other 4 Commissioners are trying to stall all manner of safety upgrades and Jaczko is constantly outvoted.

Anonymous said...

And here's the jackjawed thinking that has led up to his opposition,

"In August, Republican senators asked the inspector general to investigate whether Jaczko had authority to declare the Japan nuclear crisis an emergency -- which grants him additional powers -- since the crisis occurred on foreign soil. "

As if the radiation didn't plume and blow east to America.
They have been downplaying it since.

"Jaczko said incidents at Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska and Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio "almost led to workers getting very, very significant doses" of radiation."

Atomfritz said...

I have read some meeting transcripts of the chairman board, and it is very interesting.

All they (Jaczko. Apostolakis, Magwood IV, Ostendorff, Svinicki and others) seem to have in common only one objective: making the public believe that there are no dangers from nuclear power.

However, there are slightly different opinions of what can be tolerated from the nuclear operators and how much "safety" is really necessary.
Quarrels thus often occur when there are questions like "How much will the public accept/tolerate without getting wary or even acting up?"

I suppose that Jaczko has gone too far in the view of some of the board. In their opinion it was probably detrimental to the nuclear industry that Jaczco didn't parrot the official japanese cacophony of "it's all harmless, don't worry".

And, perhaps even more important, his effort toward closing the irresponsibly highly earthquake-endangered Yucca Mountain site has of course enraged many companies in the nuclear business that hoped for profits.

So Jaczko has become persona non grata for some of the money-givers of the boardsmen.

If Jaczko gets replaced, then probably by somebody who is more "cooperative" to soften long-term-storage regulations so the NPP operators can finally get rid of the costly spent fuel by socializing the cost.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear plants would not have been built if the industry and congress couldn't resolve the issue of waste disposal. Yucca Mt. was that solution. Now the plants are built and the waste piling up, and along comes Obama and Reid and Jaczko to reneg on that part of the deal. If that part of the deal is toast, then nuclear power should be shut down as waste disposal has not been solved. Plants are now suing the government for onsite storage costs on top of taxpayers having paid billions for the solution which now isn't one. Its the height of hypocrisy to reject Yucca Mt. but continue to build plants.

Anonymous said...

"Its the height of hypocrisy to reject Yucca Mt. but continue to build plants. "

Only exceeded by the height of pretending nuclear waste is more desirable than no nuclear waste, for the shortest of durations .. while continuing to build plants.

There, fixed it for 'ya.

Anonymous said...

Anony 10:26 thanks anony 11:50 for completeness and accuracy!

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