As you may know, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has five commissioners. Currently, the count is three: Gregory Jaczko, who chairs, Kristine Svenicki and Dale Klein, the former chairman. Nils Diaz left in 2006 and Peter Lyons earlier this year. Terms run for five years, which keeps electoral politics from interfering overly, though of course, commissioners can and have left before their terms end for various reasons.
The reason for this potted lesson? President Obama has now announced his intention to put forward two names to fill out the commission.
First up: Bill Magwood. He was DOE’s Director of Nuclear Energy from 1998 to 2005, during which time he championed the forward-looking Nuclear Power 2010 initiative and also took a hand in the Global Nucelar Energy Partnership (GNEP). The former is still going strong, the latter less so, but both show his interest in keeping the technology moving forward. Along the same lines, he was chairman of the Generation IV International Forum. Lately, he founded Advanced Energy Strategies, an energy consulting firm.
Here’s a paper Magwood co-wrote this year on used nuclear fuel.
Second: George Apostolakis. A Greek immigrant, his long tenure as KEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and professor of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (whew!), may suggest Obama’s decided taste for raiding academia for government positions. You can read about Apoktolakis on his MIT page. You’ll see the word “risk” a lot. Here’s where his current, well, until very recently current, research interest lies:
Methods for probabilistic risk assessment of complex technological systems; risk management involving several stakeholder groups; decision analysis, human reliability models; organizational factors and safety culture; software dependability; risk-informed, performance-based regulation; risk assessment and management of terrorist threats.
Risk assessment and security are very big topics in the nuclear industry – start here for more - so it’s extremely interesting Obama chose an decidedly expert figure for the commission.
The industry is certainly pleased. Why?
The industry is particularly pleased that the NRC will be fully staffed at the commissioner level. The NRC operated at its best when there is a collegial dialogue on the issues among the full complement of commissioners.