Issue Date: December 24, 2012
Nuclear Regulatory Agency Gets New Head, Talks About Waste
Congress stepped into a controversy surrounding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this past spring. In May, NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko announced his intention to leave the chairmanship position. The move followed a deep split between Jaczko and four other NRC commissioners.
President Barack Obama quickly nominated Allison M. Macfarlane to replace Jaczko. Macfarlane, a geologist and a professor at George Mason University, served on the White House’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. The blue-ribbon commission was charged with examining the nuclear waste issues in light of Obama’s decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, in Nevada. Macfarlane, because of geological reasons, had been a critic of the selection of Yucca Mountain.
The Senate held committee hearings in June on her nomination and on the renomination of NRC member Kristine L. Svinicki, a nuclear engineer. Eventually, Senate leadership paired the two—with Democrats supporting Macfarlane and Republicans backing Svinicki—and voted to approve them both.
Also this year, Congress held hearings to discuss recommendations of the blue-ribbon commission, which urged a sweeping overhaul of current U.S. radioactive waste policies. Implementing the recommendations, however, would require congressional legislation.
Neither Congress nor the Department of Energy have come up with a solution to the nuclear waste problem.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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