US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman resigns, saying she has achieved her mission of ‘righting the ship’

The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Allison Macfarlane, is leaving the agency at the start of next year to direct the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Macfarlane, an expert on nuclear waste issues, became chairman of the NRC in July 2012, when she was brought in to calm things down following Gregory Jaczko’s contentious tenure at the organisation.

Jaczko resigned as the NRC’s chairman in May 2012, after the agency’s inspector general described him as secretive, abusive toward staff and dismissive of other NRC commissioners.

In her statement, Macfarlane indicated that after ‘righting the ship’ following a period of upheaval at the NRC, she was returning to academia. Macfarlane also said that the NRC had learned lessons from the Fukushima disaster and had implemented various safety improvements, including the addition of protective equipment at reactor sites and regional centres around the country, as well as seismic and flood protection enhancements at power plants.