Inner conflict between NRC head Gregory Jackzo, four commissioners exposed; Jackzo accused of creating hostility within agency, denies allegations
December 13, 2011
– Complaints from Democrats and Republicans about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have exposed conflicted relationships and long-standing hostility inside the five-member agency, Reuters reported Dec. 9.
The agency is currently examining regulatory action for U.S. nuclear power plants in light of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Inside details of the agency’s inner workings show Chairman Gregory Jackzo, who was once employed by critics of nuclear power in Congress, positioned against four commissioners, both Democratic and Republican, who’ve argued that Jackzo is a power-hungry leader whose work ethic hinders a collaborative spirit.
In a signed letter by the four commissioners and marked private, William Magwood, Kristine Svinicki, William Ostendorff and George Apostolakis wrote that Jackzo’s behavior was causing “serious damage” to the institution and creating a “chilled work environment.”
Jazcko denied the allegations in a return letter from Dec. 7.
The agency’s review of nuclear power plant safety regulations are predicted to cost millions for existing plants such as Exelon and Entergy, and Southern Co. and SCANA Corp. await rulings on new plants expected shortly.
In response to the controversy over the agency’s inner workings, Democratic Representative Edward Markey publicized a 23-page report contending that the four commissioners who are holding up U.S. nuclear safety reviews.
Jaczko’s relationship to Markey, under whom he was employed as an aide, and also Senator Harry Reid, with whom he succeeded in shuttering a nuclear waste dump in the Yucca Mountain, has raised concerns with Republicans about his impartiality.
Markey has said that the commissioners have intentionally blocked and delayed the NRC task force charged with developing safety regulations for nuclear power.
A hearing Dec. 13 before Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and the person who made the private complaints of the four commission members public, will investigate the allegations. In a letter to White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Issa made note that President Obama has the power to dismiss Jaczko.
In August, the agency was also reprimanded for infighting by Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, and has before been described as a “toxic environment.”
Jaczko’s last words on the matter to reporters were that the commission is “working well.”
The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, December 9, 2011.