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NRC’s Jaczko Denies Mistreating Women, Confirms Watchdog Report

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, whose management style has been criticized, denied allegations that he mistreats female colleagues while saying the agency’s inspector general is preparing another report.

“I categorically deny any accusations that I mistreat women at the agency,” he said at a news conference in Washington today, without specifying the nature of the accusations. He acknowledged that the agency’s inspector general is preparing a report, but would not provide details.

“That’s not something I have anything to do with,” he said. Joseph McMillan, NRC assistant inspector general for investigations, declined to comment. The Office of Inspector General is the internal watchdog for the agency.

The hastily called press conference followed reports President Barack Obama intends to renominate Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, a Republican, to a five-year term. Svinicki last year joined colleagues in complaining about Jaczko’s management of the agency, accusing him of bullying employees.

“There’s a number of allegations that I think have been floating around, and I just wanted to once and for all make a firm statement about that,” he said.

‘Verbal Assault’

Jaczko aimed a “raging verbal assault” at three female agency staff members in separate encounters, NRC Commissioner William Magwood told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in December, a charge that the NRC chairman then denied.

Svinicki’s tenure as commissioner expires at the end of June. Jaczko wouldn’t say whether he supports her for another term.

“I will be comfortable working with any member of the commission that makes it through the process of nomination and confirmation,” said Jaczko, whose term ends in June 2013.

A previous report by the agency’s inspector general criticized Jaczko for his interaction with other commissioners. That report, issued June 6, alleged Jaczko improperly ended consideration of a proposed nuclear-waste disposal facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Jaczko denied any wrongdoing.

Former Reid Aide

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who opposes Svinicki’s renomination, is engaging in “a bullying smear campaign against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s only female commissioner in what is clearly an effort to retaliate against her decision to speak up for the agency’s employees,” Representative Ann Marie Buerkle, a New York Republican, said in a statement yesterday.

Adam Jentleson, a Reid spokesman, declined to respond yesterday to Buerkle’s comments. The Nevada senator opposes the renomination because Svinicki was not truthful during her 2007 confirmation hearing about her work on the Yucca project, Jentleson has said.

Jaczko directed the NRC to stop work on Yucca Mountain after Obama canceled funding for the project. Jaczko previously worked for Reid, a Yucca opponent, as appropriations director and a science adviser.

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