Inspector completes Yucca Mountain probe of NRC chairman

WASHINGTON — The inspector general at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed an investigation of agency Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s handling of Yucca Mountain, but results were not immediately forthcoming.

Inspector General Hubert Bell on Monday sent a report to the five commissioners who head the nuclear safety agency, and also to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that has been investigating the NRC’s management on the spent fuel issue, NRC spokesman David McIntyre said.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, scheduled a hearing on the report for Tuesday.

McIntyre said the NRC did not plan to make the findings public, saying it is the policy of the inspector general not to release investigative reports. Jaczko also has no plans to make it public, he said.

Jaczko in a statement said the report “reaffirmed” his position that his handling of the nuclear waste program has been “consistent with established law, guidance and my authorities as chairman.”

Kenneth Rogers, a former NRC commissioner, in October called for the inspector general to investigate Jaczko’s management of the Yucca issue, which also has drawn strong criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Critics have charged Jaczko acted on his own to order agency staff to bring “an orderly closure” to its review of a license to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The chairman’s decision prompted a rift among other commissioners, dissension from within the agency’s staff, and strong reactions from a handful of states where nuclear waste has accumulated and awaiting transport to a repository.

Some Republicans in Congress have charged Jaczko acted with political interests, as the Obama administration and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., have pressed for the Yucca project to be terminated.

Before joining the agency, Jaczko was a science adviser to Reid.

Jaczko has denied doing anything inappropriate. He has testified to Congress that his actions were supported by NRC general counsel’s reading of the applicable budget laws and NRC policies.

Jaczko said Wednesday that, “With the IG report now completed, we can all move forward with a renewed commitment to ensuring public health and safety in the use of nuclear materials.”

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760.

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