Controversial Head Of Nuclear Commission Resigns

May 21, 2012
Originally published on May 21, 2012 7:21 pm
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stepping down after three contentious years on the job. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: The reactions to Gregory Jaczko's resignation are pouring in and they range from it's an immeasurable loss to it's about time. Jaczko was a controversial figure in an agency charged with keeping nuclear power safe. In his case, that often meant running afoul of the nuclear industry and his fellow commissioners. When the commission voted earlier this year to allow construction of the first nuclear power plant since the late 1970s, Jaczko was the lone dissenting vote. But it wasn't his views that courted the most controversy.

At a House Oversight Committee late last year, commissioners Kristine Svinicki and William Ostendorff accused Jaczko of creating an environment that hurt the agency's ability to function.

KRISTINE SVINICKI: The chairman's continued outbursts of abusive rage directed at subordinates within the agency staff, all members of the commission including me have been on the receiving end of this conduct.

DR. WILLIAM OSTENDORFF: It's about bullying and intimidating behavior towards NRC career staff that should not and cannot be tolerated.

KEITH: Jaczko denied the charges.

DR. GREGORY JACZKO: Well, I'm a very passionate person about safety.

KEITH: Jaczko didn't mention the internal strife at the commission in announcing his resignation, simply saying this is the appropriate time to continue his public safety efforts in a different forum. He plans to remain on the job until his replacement is confirmed. A White House spokesman says the president intends to nominate a new chairman soon.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.