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NRC Members Sought to Stop Japan Response, Markey Says

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission members tried to impede Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s response to Japan’s reactor crisis in March, according to a report from Representative Edward Markey.

Commissioners George Apostolakis, William Magwood IV, William Ostendorff and Kristine Svinicki “conspired, with each other and with senior NRC staff, to delay the release of and alter” an agency task-force study on the crisis, according to the 22-page report released by Markey’s office yesterday.

The report is based on documents submitted by the commissioners in response to an October request from Markey of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Jaczko, a former congressional science fellow for Markey, has urged the NRC to move quickly in implementing the task-force’s recommendations to improve safety at U.S. reactors after an earthquake and tsunami in March caused radiation leaks and meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

Commissioners have endorsed some of the task force’s findings and differ on how to implement them, agency spokesman Eliot Brenner said in a phone interview.

Markey’s report found e-mails and other documents with “high levels of suspicion and hostility directed” at Jaczko. At other times, e-mails showed Jaczko’s colleagues “assumed ill intent on the part of the chairman” and tried to “undermine his efforts or refuse his requests.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform committee has summoned the commissioners to a Dec. 14 hearing to discuss rifts in the agency’s leadership.

Jaczko wasn’t open with colleagues about his intent to stop work on a proposed waste site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, according to a June report from the NRC’s inspector general.

Republicans have accused Jaczko of stopping work on the Yucca project for political reasons, which he has denied.

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