NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko announces resignation

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Gregory Jaczko announced today that he would resign his position as soon as a successor is confirmed. Jaczko has served on the 5-member commission since January 2005 and was named chairman in May 2009. His current term as commissioner was set to expire in June 2013.

In reporting the resignation, the New York Times noted:

The practical impact of the announcement is not clear. Dr. Jaczko’s term as a member of the commission ends in 13 months, but the commissioner who serves as chairman does so at the pleasure of the president, meaning that he would be replaced in January if Mr. Obama does not win a second term. Given the slow pace of Senate confirmations, especially in an election year in which control of the White House and the Senate could change, it is not clear that the Senate will approve a replacement before the election in November, and it is more unlikely to do so if Mr. Obama loses and becomes a lame duck.

Below is Jaczko’s official statement.

STATEMENT OF NRC CHAIRMAN GREGORY B. JACKZO

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.

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4 Responses to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko announces resignation

  1. Brian Mays

    Did a position at Greenpeace or the Union of Concerned Sciences suddenly open up?

  2. That was also my first thought, Brian. I doubt we have heard the last of Gregory Jaczko.

    There is also the possibility that some of the statements of the other Commissioners have prompted investigations of Jaczko’s behavior that are approaching their conclusions…

  3. This resignation might not mean much after all. The article does mention that Senate confirmations take a long time, it even understates how long it can take. The Republicans will certainly block any candidate Obama approves us, while Harry Reid will certainly block any candidate the Republicans approve of. Especially since that candidate will want to reopen Yucca Mountain, which Reid, for purely political reasons, must keep closed. So Jaczko may end up serving out the rest of his term after all.

  4. Brian Mays

    Jaczko might well end up serving the rest of his term as Commissioner, but it appears that he will not be Chairman for long.

    Even if Jaczko were replaced tomorrow, he would likely be replaced by someone who would vote exactly like him, so whether or not he stays or goes is of little matter.