Both commissioner seats are open
George Apostolakis is a professor of nuclear science at MIT and William Magwood is a former DOE nuclear energy official. The White House announced the nominations Friday, Oct 9, which is a "dead zone" for media coverage. Both appointments have been rumored for some time. Last July the New York Times published an assessment by Climate Wire.
Business groups were reported to be worried that with the appointment to the NRC of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's former aide Gregory Jaczko, who brings a tilt toward anti-nuclear green groups, that further appointments in his camp could be bad news for the nuclear industry. As a Democrat, Jaczko was named as NRC Chairman by President Obama
The two NRC appointments "are very important," said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. "A number of utility boards are looking to that as a possible sign of where things are going in the future," he said. "There has been great apprehension [that] the wrong appointments could really set a bad tone."
However, these fears appear, at least for now, to be unfounded as both men come with long years of experience in the nuclear industry. Both men are members of the American Nuclear Society (ANS).
By comparison, Jaczko (right) spent his time prior to joining the NRC as a political aide to Sen. Harry Reid. Before that he worked for Rep. Ed Markey who has repeatedly attacked the nuclear industry.
Reid’s prime interest has been to hobble the licensing process for Yucca Mountain by starving it for funds, but this has been for political consumption in his home state of Nevada. Even Jaczko has acknowledged [NRC speech] that dry cask storage at reactors of spent nuclear fuel can continue for decades.
Markey has also attacked the industry’s residuals as a choke point. Last April Markey tried to get the NRC to reclassify depleted uranium from enrichment plant operations as a waste type which is much more stringently controlled and at far higher costs. Industry experts point out that depleted uranium is simply U238 with very little of the U235 fissionable isotope left in it.
Markey’s strategy is one of hard-ball politics designed to make trouble, and increase fuel costs, for the nation’s nuclear utilities as an effort to slow down the growth of the nuclear renaissance. He's also a key figure in the passage of the House bill on climate change last July.
Chamber of Commerce gets heat over global warming
Paradoxically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a pro-nuclear policy position, found itself abandoned by several of its members earlier this month. The New York Times reported Sept 29 that Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear utility, quit lambasting the Chamber for its head-in-the-sand policy stance on global warming.
“The carbon-based free lunch is over,” said John W. Rowe, Exelon’s chief executive. “Breakthroughs on climate change and improving our society’s energy efficiency are within reach.”
Several other high profile firms also left including Apple Computer. Speaking to an audience in San Jose, CA, Oct 9, Energy Sec. Steven Chu praised the high tech computer firm’s decision to leave the Chamber and called on other firms to follow in its footsteps.
Chamber president Thomas Donohue is reportedly quite unhappy with Apple's withdrawal and criticized the company for misrepresenting the organization's stance. He said green groups close to President Obama were part of a campaign to undermine the organization.
All this huffing and puffing will likely have political effects when the Senate takes up the confirmation of the two nominees. The Senate version of the climate bill will likely still be under consideration when the hearings for the two nominees take place. Expect them to be asked about the role nuclear energy can have in the response to global warming. Who knows, that dialog might even given Mr. Jaczko some food for thought.
These are the bios of the two nominees in the official announcements. If confirmed by the Senate, these two nominees will bring the NRC to its full membership as provided by law.
Dr. George Apostolakis (right) is the Korea Electric Power Company professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a professor of Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT photo-right]. He received his Ph.D. in engineering science and applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1973. He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and of the Society for Risk Analysis. He received the Tommy Thompson Award for his contributions to improvement of reactor safety in 1999 and the Arthur Holly Compton Award in Education in 2005 from the American Nuclear Society.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal Reliability Engineering and System Safety and the founder of the International Conferences on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (PSAM). Dr. Apostolakis is a member and former chairman of the statutory Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
His current research interests include methods for risk and reliability assessment of complex technological systems; nuclear reactor safety; uncertainty analysis; the use of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) in design; infrastructure security; risk-informed and performance-based regulation; and risk management involving multiple stakeholders. He has published numerous papers and has participated in many PRA courses and PRA reviews.
William D. Magwood, IV
William D. Magwood, IV [DOE photo-right] was the longest-serving head of the United States’ civilian nuclear technology program, serving two Presidents and five Secretaries of Energy from May 1998 until he stepped down on May 24, 2005. He then founded the firm Advanced Energy Strategies to provide strategic advice to domestic and international clients.
As the Director of Nuclear Energy with the U.S. Department of Energy, Mr. Magwood was the senior nuclear technology official in the United States Government and the senior nuclear technology policy advisor to the Secretary of Energy. Under Mr. Magwood’s leadership, the Office of Nuclear Energy encouraged a new consideration of nuclear power technology in the United States. Among other efforts, he led the creation of the "Nuclear Power 2010" initiative, which remains the cornerstone of U.S. industry’s exploration of building new nuclear power plants to provide for the Nation’s future energy needs, and led efforts that reversed the decline in American nuclear technology education.
Mr. Magwood was also a strong advocate of international technology cooperation and was elected Chairman of both the Generation IV International Forum and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Steering Committee on Nuclear Energy.
Prior to his appointment as Director of Nuclear Energy, Mr. Magwood served as the Associate Director for Technology and Program Planning in the Office of Nuclear Energy for four years. From 1984-1994, he managed electric utility research and nuclear policy programs at the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, DC; and he was a scientist at Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he analyzed radiological and hazardous waste disposal, treatment, and handling systems. Mr. Magwood holds a B.S. degree in Physics and a B.A. degree in English from Carnegie-Mellon University. He also holds an M.F.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
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