Nuclear safety: NRC chairman is a tyrant, colleagues tell Congress
Four commissioners from the NRC, the federal agency that oversees nuclear safety at power plants, told Congress Wednesday that their chairman is a bully who is poisoning the commission.
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Democrats offered support for Jaczko, a former member of staff for Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. They suggested that, in the past, the NRC had been too docile when confronted with safety issues and that changing the agency's culture might be a good thing.Skip to next paragraph
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Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the "current chairman has exhibited one of the strongest records of safety of any chairman."
He added that an earlier inspector general's investigation had uncovered no violations of law or instances where the safety of a power plant had been compromised.
Nuclear-industry watchdogs agree.
"Jaczko has proven himself to be a public servant who takes his job regulating the nuclear industry seriously," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight in a statement. "Given the stakes involved, which the Fukushima disaster in Japan made clear, we should expect the NRC chairman to be aggressive in pursuit of safety."
Asked about the charges that some staff women at the NRC were intimidated by his managerial style, Jaczko said he could only recall one incident that might have been construed that way, but dismissed it as merely a discussion.
He added: "If there's ever been a time where I've made someone feel uncomfortable I always like to know so I can take whatever actions necessary to remedy that."
Nuclear industry groups noted concerns about such allegations, with the the Nuclear Energy Institute citing “a chilled working environment at the agency … including the possibility of staff intimidation and harassment" in a statement Monday.
But Ms. Brian of the Project On Government Oversight suggested that the hearing could have political motives: "We doubt the nuclear industry would be sad to see Jaczko go."
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