Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called departing Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Bill Magwood “a disaster” as environmental groups said he should resign now to avoid a conflict of interest with his next job.
Magwood plans to leave the NRC to begin work in September as director general of the Nuclear Energy Agency at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Paris-based group seeks to promote global development and has 34 member nations, including the U.S.
“He couldn’t leave quick enough for me,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters on a conference call today. “He’s been a disaster. Other than that I have no feelings.”
Reid has long been critical of Magwood, who supports a nuclear waste facility in the majority leader’s home state.
A coalition of 34 environmental groups sent letters today to President Barack Obama and the NRC seeking an investigation into whether Magwood violated ethics rules by accepting a job promoting nuclear power.
Magwood, a Democrat appointed by Obama, has said his new post at the NEA, which represents most of the world’s nuclear energy generating capacity, isn’t a conflict of interest.
The environmental groups said he should recuse himself from all NRC decisions relating to safety dating back to the time he applied for the new job.
In an interview with the Huffington Post in July 2012, Reid denounced Magwood as a a “treacherous, miserable liar” and a “first-class rat.”
In the interview, Reid cited Magwood’s support for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain northwest of Las Vegas as a reason for his distaste for Magwood. He also blamed Magwood for the departure of former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.
Jaczko, a former member of Reid’s staff, resigned from the NRC in 2012 following criticism from other members of the commission.
The five-member NRC currently has one vacancy.