Nuke industry calls on Congress, WH to address concerns about NRC chief

The Oct. 13 letter, which was sent to White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, is a powerful rebuke of Jaczko’s leadership by his colleagues, including two fellow Democrats.

“We believe that his actions and behavior are causing serious damage to this institution and are creating a chilled work environment at the NRC,” NRC commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki, George Apostolakis, William D. Magwood IV and William C. Ostendorff say in the letter.

“We are concerned that this will adversely affect the NRC’s central mission to protect the health, safety and security of the American people,” it continues. House Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released the letter Friday ahead of this week's hearing with NRC members.
 
Svinicki and Ostendorff are Republicans; Magwood and Apostolakis are Democrats.

In responding to the letter, NEI said Monday it is most concerned by the commissioners’ allegations that Jaczko’s leadership could cause a "chilled work environment."

“The issue that is of most concern is the question of a chilled working environment at the agency, including the possibility of staff intimidation and harassment, at a time when the senior management and staff are working on critical licensing activities and post-Fukushima safety recommendations,” Fertel said. “The industry takes safety culture issues seriously and we expect the same priority treatment of these issues by our regulator.”

Fertel called for a speedy resolution to the tensions on the commission.

“It is important that the dynamics that exist within the commission be resolved professionally and expeditiously so that the important work of the agency can continue without interruption or distraction,” he said. “The American people expect and deserve nothing less.”

Fertel said that NEI “will not be distracted” from its efforts to ensure nuclear safety by the commissioners’ spat.

Issa’s release of the letter comes as the commission is working to implement a series of new safety standards recommended by a federal task force in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) defended Jaczko, his former aide, this weekend.

“It is sad to see those who would place the interests of a single industry over the safety of the American people wage a politically-motivated witch hunt against a man with a proven track record of ensuring that nuclear power is produced as safely and responsibly as possible,” Reid’s office said in a statement Saturday.

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called on President Obama to “immediately address” the commissioners’ concerns.

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