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Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Visits Charlotte


Senior level executives from throughout the nuclear power industry have been in Charlotte this week for their biggest conference of the year. The chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spoke today. He addressed the future of new South Carolina reactors as well as his own. Before he could get to the meat of his speech, Gregory Jaczko (pictured, right) had to acknowledge a very large elephant in the room: The fact that he announced his resignation Monday, more than a year before his term is finished. "As I'm sure many of you know, on Monday, I indicated that upon the nomination and confirmation of a successor, I would move on to other opportunities to continue to pursue my passions of working in the public interest," he says. Jaczko says that the timing of his resignation is to give President Obama and Congress ample time to find a replacement. But his announcement comes after a year of criticism by colleagues as well as congressional hearings investigating what critics call an abrasive management style, reducing female employees to tears in some instances. He has consistently denied these reports, and when questioned directly about his management style, he would only speak to the strengths of healthy office disagreements. "We want debate. We want discussion," he says. "We want to have engaging conversations. And as I've said before, I'm a passionate person. I care passionately about nuclear safety." One of the disagreements concerned the construction of two reactors at a plant outside of Columbia, South Carolina. He was the only member of the commission who voted against approval of the construction in March. While he supported the plant's design, he was concerned the station wouldn't withstand a black out for an extended period of time. That was a key factor in the meltdown at the Fukushima plant. The two South Carolina reactors are scheduled to be completed in 2016 and 2019.