NRC's Jaczko rejects calls to resign

WASHINGTON -- Facing calls for his resignation following an internal report critical of his management style and his handling of the Yucca Mountain program, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said Thursday he is not going anywhere.

"I intend to continue to do my job to ensure public health and safety, and I intend to fully serve out my term as chairman," Jaczko said. "Most of these issues with Yucca Mountain are old news for the commission."

Jaczko, whose term expires in June 2013, commented on Yucca Mountain after a hearing at which he testified to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on nuclear safety issues with the four other NRC commissioners.

It was Jaczko's first appearance on Capitol Hill since a report by the NRC inspector general was made public last week. The report said the chairman withheld information from fellow commissioners last October when he told the agency's staff to halt its review of an application to build a nuclear waste repository at the Yucca Mountain site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The report also said that he exercised tight control over documents and information to be shared among fellow commission and staff members and that he oversaw the agency with a temper that made him difficult to work with.

Two Republicans, Reps. Mike Simpson of Idaho and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, have called on Jaczko to step aside, saying his ability to lead the nuclear agency has been compromised.

Democrats have defended Jaczko, noting that the inspector's report did not accuse him of breaking any laws and that his actions fell within his authority as chairman to prioritize the work of the agency.

In an interview this week with Greenwire, an environmental news service, Jaczko said only President Barack Obama can have him removed.

"I have no intention to leave office, and the only other person who has the ability to remove me from office is the president, so if the president makes that decision, then that's what will happen," Jaczko told the news service. "But I have no intention of stepping down."