The longest-serving member of the five-member commission announced in a press released statement that he will resign his post, adding “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.”
While working on his physics PhD, and looking into alternative career paths, Jaczko found that his skill set as a physicist could be applied to policy work, where, he says, “people with these kinds of skills are really needed.” Dr Jackzo was nominated to the commission by President George W. Bush in 2005, and in 2009, was named chairman of the nuclear agency by President Barack Obama.
Chairman Jaczko was often viewed as an outsider, but also a man of convictions and not afraid to stand up for those beliefs, even when under fire. Dr. Jaczko led efforts to strengthen security regulations for nuclear power plants – including requiring new nuclear power plants to be designed to withstand an aircraft crash.
“I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum,” Jaczko said today in a statement. “My responsibility and commitment to safety will continue to be my paramount priority after I leave the commission and until my successor is confirmed.”
Peter A. Bradford, who was a commission member from 1977 to 1982, has defended the embattled chairman after all four other NRC commissioners sent a letter to the White House expressing “grave concern” about Jaczko’s action at the NRC.
Bradford said it was not unusual for the commissioners to disagree strongly, and added that he did not believe that “the chairman is somehow raging around the agency and intimidating the staff”. He also argued that, although the letter came from two Republicans and two Democrats, it was necessarily bi-partisan in the context of nuclear politics.
He claimed that “In Washington, you’ve got a situation where the ‘nuclear party’ transcends the Republican and Democratic party,” adding that “You’ve got four members of the nuclear party writing a letter about the chairman, who’s never been a member of the nuclear party.”
While acknowledging the fierce attacks from Republicans, Dr. Jaczko said they were not a factor in his choice to resign. “This was my own decision,” he said. “I thought it was really the right time to make that announcement, to give the president an opportunity to take whatever time may be needed to identify and work through the process of selecting a successor,” he added.
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