[ RadSafe ] Obama to name Reid ally as NRC chairman -- "ACommissioner's Perspective on Nuclear Regulation"

McClung, Danny danny.k.mcclung at va.gov
Fri May 15 12:08:06 CDT 2009

"If we ask for the public's approval on everything, what will we ever
accomplish"? Danny McClung, 2009

Perhaps we could negotiate:  free healthcare for the masses in return
for new power plants and Yucca Mountain?

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Cary Renquist
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 12:22 PM
To: ROY HERREN; radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] Obama to name Reid ally as NRC chairman --
"ACommissioner's Perspective on Nuclear Regulation" 

FYI:  Jaczko's speech from a couple years ago...
"A Commissioner's Perspective on Nuclear Regulation" 

Best regards,

No. 07-010 
"A Commissioner's Perspective on Nuclear Regulation" 
Prepared Remarks for 
The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko 
Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
at the Regulatory Information Conference Rockville, MD 
March 14, 2007 

This is my third Regulatory Information Conference Speech. I look at 
these speeches as an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on 
broad themes. In my first RIC speech, I spoke about my philosophy of 
government focused on openness, transparency, and communication with 
stakeholders. Last year, I discussed the importance of earning public 
confidence in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 
After I gave that speech, I spoke with my colleagues about how 
challenging that goal is. After all, we can not control how others feel 
about the work of the agency. But I do believe there is a way we can 
work toward that goal and it involves a focus on our true customer. It 
is that topic I intend to expand on this year but before I do, I would 
like to take a few minutes to discuss a couple of my colleagues who will

be leaving the Commission this year - Commissioners McGaffigan and 

I met Commissioner Jeff Merrifield just before I started at the agency 
back at the beginning of 2005. He gave me a warm welcome and offered me 
sound and practical advice, including on how to organize my office, 
which helped cement our relationship from the very beginning. He brings 
a unique and important perspective to the Commission as its sole 

Jeff and I have different backgrounds and have not agreed on every 
policy issue. But I have personally appreciated his dedication to the 
principle that the decision-making process we follow should be 
disciplined and differing views should be respected. Together we have 
sought consensus where it could be found, and ensured that the process 
provided us with the opportunity to professionally explain our 
differences, where necessary. I know he has truly enjoyed his government

service, I will miss working with him, and I wish him well in his next 

I would also like to share a few thoughts about Commissioner McGaffigan.

We share a bond of having fathers who immigrated to this country and his

life is the quintessential American success story. He represents 
something I have a tremendous amount of respect for - public servants 
who dedicate their lives to government service. Throughout his three 
decade long career in the executive and legislative branches, he has 
responded honorably to the call to service and shown the moral courage 
that are legacies of President Kennedy's Administration. 

He also has such a nimble mind and a keen attention to detail that he 
challenges each of us to be better Commissioners - to be certain we can 
clearly explain the logic of our beliefs and positions in our 
discussions with him. Some of my most challenging and enjoyable times at

the NRC have been when Commissioner McGaffigan and I have disagreed on 
policy issues and then engaged in lively and productive discussions. 

Commissioner McGaffigan and Commissioner Merrifield have been tremendous

assets to this nation and the Commission, and I will miss them. These 
types of departures are always difficult transitions, but as you clearly

heard yesterday, neither of these gentleman has left just yet. They 
still have a lot to say about how the agency functions and important 
issues to weigh in on, so with that in mind I better turn to my views on

what the Commission should be focusing on next. 

I will begin with an anecdotal story about the renowned 20th century 
Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. As the story goes, he asked 
a friend: "Tell me. Why do people always say it was natural for man to 
assume that the Sun went around the Earth rather than that the Earth was

rotating?" His friend replied, "Well obviously because it just looks as 
though the Sun is going around the Earth!" Wittgenstein reportedly 
replied, "Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as 
though the Earth was rotating?" 

I bring up this story because it makes vividly clear how something that 
everyone accepts as truth may sometimes not be the true reflection of 
reality. Since the earth does indeed rotate, our initial perception of 
reality was misguided. So I ask you to keep this idea in mind as I 
continue my remarks today. 

The NRC should be, and is, a customer oriented agency. The NRC has been 
exploring the business process management strategy known as "six sigma."

Its focus is on the "voice of the customer." This strategy requires that

an organization analyze what it does, who it serves, and then survey 
those customers to see if it is meeting their needs. Organizations use 
this strategy to gather data and then redesign their processes in a 
fact-based way to meet the customer's requirements. 

I believe that an NRC analysis such as this clearly shows that our 
customer is the public at large. We sometimes have a tendency to narrow 
our focus to those members of the public who we interact with on a daily

basis. As I mentioned in last year's speech, however, the public 
includes a wide variety of stakeholders including individuals, citizen 
groups, vendors, licensees, applicants, and elected officials. The 
public - our customer - includes those who do and even those who do not 
actively participate in our formal processes. 

The NRC has a talented, well educated, and dedicated staff. But most of 
the contact they have on a daily basis is with licensees and is focused 
on highly technical issues. It is on these issues that our agency and 
licensees speak a common language and face similar challenges. Contact 
with other members of the broader public is much less frequent. Over 
time, I believe this has naturally led to a focus more on what licensees

need from the NRC and less on what the broader customer needs. 

I think that view is incorrectly focused, just as it was wrong to 
believe the sun revolved around the earth because that was 'the way it 
looked.' The NRC's true customers are the public as a whole. 

This has the ring of a self evident truth - our government is of, by, 
and for the people after all. Examine it in light of one of the main 
things we do which is to review and issue licenses. I believe even 
licenses themselves are for the broadly defined public. A license 
certainly has substantial intrinsic value for an applicant, but it 
should be thought of as a recognition that the recipient has met our 
responsibilities to the public to provide a reasonable assurance of 
adequate protection. We act as the stewards of the public interest to 
provide them with the technical expertise and knowledge they may not 
have the time or resources to acquire. And as the Atomic Energy Act 
makes clear, we also have a responsibility to ensure that everyone whose

interests may be affected by an NRC action has the right to participate 
in the decision making process. 

There is, therefore, a social contract: The public grants applicants the

right to possess and manage potentially harmful substances when they 
earn it from us by demonstrating they can and will meet the rules and 
requirements we establish. We must keep our regulatory focus on ensuring

we are meeting the needs of our true customers. 

The agency has made tremendous strides in meeting this goal, but I 
believe we can do better. For instance, we organize signing ceremonies 
for license approvals at the end of what are detailed, technical, and 
sometimes emotional license review processes. Representatives of the 
agency and licensees attend, and sometimes even local officials are 
present. We should aim for a level of such true customer service that 
these events would be attended not only by those members of the public, 
but also by every intervenor in the proceedings. They may not be in 
perfect agreement with every decision made during the process, just as 
the applicant probably is not, but they would believe their concerns 
have been heard and really addressed, and have faith in us as their 
trustees that public health and safety will be protected. This should be

our goal, and is a good way to look at whether our focus is on the right


So, we have more work to do in this area. The decision to issue a 
license is, and should be, a public process precisely because it is a 
statement for the public's benefit. 

Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean. In 1997 a 
consortium formed by eight large electric utility companies called 
Private Fuel Storage (PFS) submitted a license application to the 
Commission with the hope of operating an away-from-reactor spent nuclear

fuel storage facility in Utah. Nine years later, the Commission approved

a license. One would think that after almost nine years of exhaustive 
work to get a license, the applicant would waste no time beginning 
construction leading to eventual operations. 

It is over a year later, however, and the applicant is no closer to 
building the facility today than it was back in 1997. Instead, members 
of the public whom the Commission's license is supposed to benefit, 
largely rejected our decision to issue the PFS license for a host of 
reasons. Somehow our process failed because the license we issued did 
not provide adequate assurance of public health and safety in the view 
of the members of the public most affected by the action - those who 
live near the site and those elected to represent them, including the 
government of the State of Utah. 

I am not saying the NRC necessarily erred in issuing the licence, but 
because the process was flawed, the end result of years of regulatory 
work is the same as if the license had been rejected. A license granted 
should be a license implemented, and if it is not, there is obviously a 
problem. Now, I am not arguing for a longer review time, or that it is 
necessary to appease every party involved. But a license review that 
does a better job of addressing our customer's needs would ultimately be

more efficient and effective, and probably even faster. 

Let us take a look at another region of the country. A license issued by

a federal regulator under a consistent regulatory regime should be just 
as valid in one part of our country as in another. But in the Northeast,

the customer is very different and there are other challenges to the 
validity of our licensing actions. Here the social contract has gone so 
wrong that a wide variety of stakeholders across the political spectrum 
have called for independent safety assessments at several nuclear power 

Independent of whom, you might ask? Independent of the independent 
safety regulator. And it is important to note that these concerned 
customers include not only members of public interest groups but also 
elected officials from all levels of government. 

I am on record as saying I do not believe that the independent safety 
assessment model from ten years ago is the most effective way to address

this issue. But the continued requests for this action, again by a wide 
group of stakeholders from different states, demonstrate to me that we 
are not doing a good job of serving our customer. 
Again, I am not saying that every idea any member of the public has 
should be adopted by the NRC. We should have a stable regulatory regime 
and our decisions must be based on sound scientific, technical, and 
regulatory policy. But they must also be based on sound public policy. 
This requires a subtle shift that will have profound ramifications. It 
requires clear public communication and education. It requires that the 
Commission lead, and provide the staff with the resources to accomplish 
the additional customer service work. And it requires that the 
Commission clearly convey that we see this effort as being a high staff 

Two excellent tools we have to help us are the adjudicatory and 
rulemaking processes, which I consider great big regulatory 'suggestion 
boxes.' We should take advantage of comments, concerns, and contentions 
raised in the context of hearings and rulemakings to learn more about 
how our customer feels about the job we are doing as regulators and to 
incorporate new ideas. 

People want and deserve answers to their questions about the use of 
radioactive materials in their communities, and we should not only seek 
to answer these concerns but to truly resolve them. If we do that, our 
customers will know we are listening and incorporating there concerns 
into our regulatory structure and licensing actions. 

Two good examples of where the agency has successfully accomplished that

goal are in changes to emergency preparedness regulations and safety 
culture. I want to take this opportunity to commend the preparedness and

response and office of enforcement staff on their outreach efforts over 
the last two years. The agency's successes in both developing new 
emergency preparedness regulations and guidance, and in finding a way to

better incorporate attributes of safety culture into the reactor 
oversight process, are laudable. Both dealt with complex, controversial,

and emotional issues and both required that extensive stakeholder input 
be gathered and incorporated into the final product. I would note that 
both also resulted in solutions that were not foreseen at the beginning 
of the process but were developed through the dynamic two-way 
conversation the staff initiated with the public. 

Some opportunities to take advantage of these regulatory suggestion 
boxes and therefore help ensure the legitimacy of our licensing actions 
are pretty straightforward. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority is studying whether to re-start 
construction of Watts Bar Unit 2, which has existed in a state of 
partial construction for decades. They have a construction permit issued

back in 1973 that the NRC has renewed multiple times. In 1976 they 
applied for an operating license and this agency noticed a public 
hearing opportunity that is now closed. 

On the news that TVA may want to restart construction, the NRC has begun

to consider whether the public should be provided a new opportunity for 
a hearing on the operating license. If we decide not to, we run the risk

that we could end up disenfranchising our customer. 

After all, many of the people living near Watts Bar today were not there

in 1976. Many were not even born. If we truly focus on our customer, we 
will provide an opportunity for the public to participate in the 
decision about whether or not to approve an application to operate a 
nuclear power plant in their community. If we can resolve all of the 
questions about the review process we follow, there should not be any 
questions about the outcome of that process. 

Another slight shift in focus that could have profound effects involves 
our approach to schedules. Some stakeholders have encouraged the NRC to 
focus on streamlining our review process as much as possible and to 
secure the resources necessary to review every application they are 
considering submitting. 

I wholeheartedly agree that review schedules and predictability are 
important. The NRC alone ultimately controls the pace at which reviews 
can be done in a manner that ensures safety. Schedules should be the 
hallmarks of how we maximize the opportunities for public participation,

for the public to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely, and to 
allow the NRC to ensure public health and safety. We should therefore 
reach out to people who may not even know they can participate in our 
processes and make sure they have an understanding of these schedules. 
It is only by following this approach to schedules that we can be sure a

review process that results in a license approval will also be one that 
leads to the actual construction and operation of a facility. 

I would like to close with a discussion of one controversial decision 
the Commission has before it. I have proposed that the Commission 
complete an expedited rulemaking which would require any new nuclear 
power plants built in the U.S. be designed to withstand a large 
commercial aircraft impact. If we look at this issue from a customer 
service perspective, we should reach out and make sure we know what our 
customer's expectations are. I believe I have a sense of those 
expectations, but I also believe we should discuss this issue publicly 
to make sure we fully understand the broader public's views. 

It was not easy to address new security threats for the fleet of 
existing reactors, but the Commission thought it was vital to do so 
following September 11, 2001. The agency, therefore, issued orders 
requiring licensees to identify and implement strategies to maintain or 
restore cooling for the reactor core, containment building, and spent 
fuel pool. The NRC directed licensees to identify mitigative strategies 
- or measures they could take to reduce the potential consequences of a 
large fire or explosion - that could be implemented with resources 
already existing or readily available. This was what we could 
realistically do with billions of dollars of built infrastructure and it

was sufficient to provide a reasonable assurance of adequate protection.

It is not, however, sufficient, to miss an opportunity to design away 
the requirement for these strategies in new plants. We should act today,

as the regulator of one critical infrastructure sector, to require 
improvements that will limit the damage that may occur from such an 

Now is the time, before any applications have even been submitted, to 
require reasonable design changes including redundancy, separation of 
safety systems, and structural modifications to address the commercial 
aircraft threat. I urge my colleagues to use this issue as an 
opportunity to demonstrate that our focus is on serving the public as 
our one and only true customer. 

So to close, I believe we often find ourselves in a discussion with a 
narrower subset of our customer base. Just as our perception that the 
sun revolved around the earth was misguided, it may look like our true 
customer is limited to licensees and applicants. But I believe that if 
we step back and really look at this issue, we will see that our true 
customer is the much larger and broader public. 

If we put a stronger focus on serving our customer we will be 
successful. It will lead to more realistic and effective regulatory 
approaches to all of the important public policy issues we face. 

Thank you for your attention and I would welcome any questions you may 


Cary Renquist
RSO, Eckert & Ziegler Isotope Products
Office: +1 661-309-1033
cary.renquist at ezag.com

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Sent: Thursday, 14 May, 2009 21:53
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Obama to name Reid ally as NRC chairman

Obama to name Reid ally as NRC chairman
By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
(05-13) 15:44 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --
(c) 2009 Hearst Communications Inc. 
President Barack Obama on Wednesday named a former adviser to Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
giving opponents of a nuclear waste repository in Reid's home state of
Nevada another well-placed ally.
Gregory B. Jaczko has served on the five-member commission since January
2005 and, as chairman, will become its official spokesman. The
appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
The chairman also serves as the NRC's chief executive, overseeing
day-to-day operations as well as long-range planning.
Four years ago, the nuclear power industry fought Jaczko's nomination to
the commission. At the time, Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Steve
Kerekes said the industry preferred someone who "doesn't come out of the
Harry Reid school of stymieing Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste
management progress."
Now, Jaczko will serve as the industry's primary regulator. There are
104 nuclear reactors in operation in the U.S.
Jaczko was Reid's appropriations director and top science policy adviser
before he joined the commission.
Reid also has the support of Obama in doing away with the Yucca Mountain
repository. Obama's budget calls for providing the project with less
money and directs that the money be spent on exploring alternatives to
the Nevada site.
During his tenure on the commission, Jaczko has focused his attention on
the security of nuclear power plants and emergency preparedness.
Reid applauded the announcement.
"His work in Congress and at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has
improved the safety of nuclear power plants and is based on his
demonstrated commitment to bringing all stakeholders to the table," Reid

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