Beyond Nuclear has issued the following statement regarding NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane's announced resignation, just a year and a half into her current five-year term:
"Chairman Macfarlane took some principled and important steps toward restoring the NRC’s integrity and upholding its public safety mission statement, but failed to fulfill them.
Unfortunately, the 'go along to get along' strategy is inherently hamstrung, particularly given the many ferocious industry policy fights raging throughout the agency.
For example, her minority vote to stand with the agency’s staff recommendation to promptly require all U.S. Fukushima-style reactors be equipped with filtered hardened containment vents took the side of public safety margins over industry financial margins.
Wrestling that Order to the mat would have fortified nearly one-third of the US nuclear fleet, for when the next accident occurs, to significantly contain the release of radioactivity while venting these fragile containments of explosive hydrogen, high pressure and extreme heat.
Her academic positions did not translate into public safety realities. Academically, Chairman Marfarlane has endorsed the 'expedited transfer' of high-level radioactive waste, from dangerous high-density storage pools into dry casks, at reactor sites. But her sole dissent only meant that the agency defied such efforts.
Sometimes there is no successful righting of any ship of state after its credibility has sunk just so low.
An especially disappointing vote cast by Chairman Macfarlane was her August, 2014 vote -- with the rest of the Commissioners -- to endorse so-called Nuclear Waste Confidence under a new name, 'Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.' Although she disapproved of NRC staff's assumption that institutional control would be maintained forever into the future -- an impossibility -- she nonetheless voted the wrong way. Beyond Nuclear has already filed contentions in numerous new and old reactor licensing proceedings challenging this unanimous NRC Commissioners vote. Beyond Nuclear is part of a broad environmental coalition that may very well take this matter back to federal court, if necessary.
We thank her for her service and wish her success in her future endeavors."