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Four commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission attempted to delay the Commission's response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear emergency, to cover up the severity of the incident and to weaken nuclear safety regulation. The four commissioners, conspiring with House Republican Daryl Issa, are attempting a coup against Chairman Jazcko and a mutiny against President Obama. They are attempting to force out the Chairman, to weaken nuclear safety enforcement and to restore the Yucca Mt. high level waste repository that President Obama gave an order to terminate. House Republicans, under pressure from the nuclear power industry, have been attempting to force the President to continue development of Yucca Mountain. The coup leader is Commissioner Bill Magwood who has worked as a consultant to TEPCO, the owner of the failed Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

On December 9 Nuclear Watchdog, Dem. Congressman Markey,  released the stunning report,

"Regulatory Meltdown How Four Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners Conspired to Weaken and Delay Nuclear Safety in the Wake of Fukushima". PDF

Executive Summary

     In the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,
Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued a report, numerous letters and introduced legislation all aimed at highlighting potential safety vulnerabilities and accelerating the implementation of the needed safety enhancements. Congressman Markey was particularly concerned that the Commission was moving too slowly to adopt these new measures.

     In late October 2011, Congressman Markey sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) requesting copies of all documents (including voting records, reports,
emails, correspondence, memoranda, phone or meeting minutes or other materials) related to the events of Fukushima or the NRC’s response thereto prepared or obtained by any Commissioner or member of any Commissioner’s staff. While most Commissioners marked every single document – including articles that appeared in the public media – to be not for public release – this narrative is an effort to provide a summary of the thousands of pages of materials that were responsive to that request. The review of these materials indicates that:

1. Four NRC Commissioners attempted to delay and otherwise impede the creation of   the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima.

2. Four NRC Commissioners conspired, with each other and with senior NRC staff, to delay the release of and alter the NRC Near-Term Task Force report on Fukushima.

3. The other NRC Commissioners attempted to slow down or otherwise impede the adoption of the safety recommendations made by the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima.

4. NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko kept the other four NRC Commissioners fully informed regarding the Japanese emergency, despite claims to the contrary made by these Commissioners.

5. A review of emails and other documents indicates high levels of suspicion and hostility directed at the Chairman.

6. The consideration of the Fukushima safety upgrades is not the only safety-related issue that the other NRC Commissioners have opposed.

Now the four commissioners are conspiring against Chairman Jaczko to get former TEPCO and Fukushima consultant Bill Magwood installed as chairman.
WASHINGTON -- Bill Magwood, the man at the center of an effort to overthrow the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his most likely successor if the move is successful, served as a consultant for Tepco, the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to information provided by Magwood as part of his nomination and confirmation process, which was obtained by The Huffington Post.

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a letter signed by Magwood and three other commissioners attacking the panel's chairman, Gregory Jaczko, setting off a firestorm in the energy industry. Issa and the four commissioners framed the dispute as personal and managerial, but emails released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) show a political and ideological battle underway over post-Fukushima safety standards.

Since the 1950's when the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were the Atomic Energy Commission, major releases of radioactivity to the public, such fallout on Utah residents after weapons tests in Nevada, have been covered up. Another major incident happened when the citizens of the Tri-cities near the Hanford, Washington nuclear facilities were not informed that they were being exposed to high doses of radioactive iodine. Now four NRC commissioners have tried to cover up Fukushima.

Four NRC Commissioners attempted to delay and otherwise impede the creation of the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima

On March 17 2011, Chairman Jaczko circulated a draft document26 calling for the
creation of a senior NRC Task Force to study the Fukushima accident to provide
recommendations to the NRC related to what additional safety and enforcement measures should be taken to ensure the safety and resiliency of U.S. nuclear power plants. He proposed that the full Commission meet publicly on March 21 to approve the document, and asked for the other Commissioners to review it in advance. On March 19, following a 10:13 AM email from NRC’s Executive Director for Operations Bill Borchardt to the Chairman that suggested some specific methodological steps the Task Force could take, the Chairman solicited input from the other four Commissioners on Mr. Borchardt’s proposal. 27 On March 20, 2011, the Chairman sent another email (Attachment 1) to the rest of the Commission that included a revised proposal for the Task Force that incorporated feedback he had received, some additional documents intended to support the proposal to create the NRC Near-Term Task Force, and a request that they provide him with any feedback.

Private communications between the Commissioners and their staffs indicate a desire to disparage, delay or otherwise impede the Chairman’s efforts:

• In a March17, 2011 report to his staff on a 4 PM call with Chairman Jaczko,
Commissioner Magwood said that “it’s now pretty obvious that [the Chairman] plans to
keep the Commission out of this entire exercise,” and that the Chairman’s statement that the recommendation to evacuate U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors came as a surprise to Chairman Jaczko “wasn’t credible.”

Actual measurements show that the Chairman gave sound advice.

Image source: Professor Yukio Hayakawa

Commissioner Magwood has made demonstrably false statements to Congress attacking and undermining Chairman Jaczko. The Markey report gives strong evidence that commissioners with ties to the nuclear industry are conspiring with congressional Republicans to try to force out Chairman Jaczko who formerly worked for Senator Reid, Dem-NV and congressman Markey.

After the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, the NRC’s headquarters
Operations Center began to monitor the situation on a 24-hour basis in accordance with the 1980 NRC reorganization act8. This occurred in keeping with NRC policy guidance, which states that the 1980 reorganization plan gives the “Chairman sole discretion to determine when to declare an emergency.”9 That plan also states that “it is recommended that the Chairman provide notice to the other Commissioners and the NRC staff that an emergency status… has been entered. Such notice allows the staff to be cognizant that they should follow Chairman directives rather than await the normal Commission decision-making processes.”

On May 4, Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki and William D. Magwood told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that they had never been informed of the Chairman’s decision to move to emergency status, while Commissioner William C. Ostendorff stated that he had not been “fully” informed though he had discussed the topic with Chairman Jaczko on March 31.10

Similar statements were made by all four NRC Commissioners at a June 16 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. These assertions have also been made in less public ways. For example, on March 30, 2011 at 11:40 AM., Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s staff emailed the other four NRC Commissioners’ chiefs of staff asking, “As soon as possible, please provide the date, time and manner in which Chairman Jaczko informed your commissioner of his declaration of his exercise of emergency authority. Please include any information the Chairman providing [sic] his expectations regarding the duration of this emergency situation and his plan for returning the agency to a non-emergency status. Please include the date, time, and manner in which your commissioner indicated his approval to Chairman Jaczko.”

In response to this request, Commissioner Ostendorff’s staff indicated that he was
informed on March 17 by one of Chairman Jaczko’s staff that “the [NRC] operations center is activated and taking direction from the Chairman, but no policy functions have been transferred to the Chairman.” 11 Commissioner Magwood’s staff indicated that “Commissioner Magwood has not been informed by the Chairman that a declaration of emergency authority has been invoked. The Chairman has not provided notice to the Commission, either verbally or in writing, that an emergency status has been entered.”12 Commissioner Svinicki’s staff indicated that “Commissioner Svinicki has not been informed by Chairman Jaczko of any declaration of an emergency or the Chairman’s invocation of emergency response authority.”13

Yet an examination of internal NRC emails and other documents clearly demonstrate that these assertions are patently untrue:

• Following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, an email (Attachment 1) was sent to the chiefs of staff of all NRC Commissioners at 9:34 AM on March 11 reporting that “NRC HQ and Region IV are monitoring the potential impact of tsunamis impacting NRC
licensees and licensed materials.”14

• When the NRC entered emergency monitoring mode, meaning that the emergency
authority contemplated in the 1980 NRC reorganization had automatically shifted to the
Chairman, an email (Attachment 1) was sent informing all Commission offices that this
had occurred 23 minutes later, at 10:09 AM, stating that “the NRC is in the Monitoring
Response Mode as of 0946 on 3/11/11”15, and the first briefing of Commissioner staff
took place just over three hours later (Attachment 1). 16 In the first 24 hours following the earthquake, four Commissioner staff briefings occurred.17

• On March 11 at 7:43 PM Chairman Jaczko emailed (Attachment 1) the other
Commissioners letting them know that the NRC was continuing to monitor the evolving
situation in Japan and that he would keep them updated as best as possible. 18

• Chairman Jaczko personally briefed his colleagues regularly, including full Commission
briefings on March 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 26, 30, 31, and April 7. These regular full
Commission briefings were cancelled when the other Commissioners ceased participating in them. Additionally, Chairman Jaczko held personal meetings or calls with
Commissioner Apostolakis (March 11, 24, 25), Commissioner Ostendorff (March 20, 21,
31, April 7), Commissioner Svinicki (March 23, 30) and Commissioner Magwood (March 26). 19

• Regular briefing calls were also held for Commissioners’ staffs (see Attachment 1 for the scheduling announcements for some of these briefings), every eight hours through March 15, every 12 hours through March 31, daily through April 10 and then twice weekly

The Markey report is credible. During my 15 years working at the NRC I witnessed multiple incidents where the nuclear industry and congressional Republicans put strong pressure on the NRC to weaken nuclear safety enforcement. Ultimately, my reason for working at the NRC was eliminated when Republicans took over the congress under Newt Gingrich. Our nuclear waste safety research program was terminated when Gingrich's Republicans zeroed out our budget. Our research was showing that the Department of Energy's claims about the geologic stability of Yucca Mountain were exaggerated. The Republican response was to eliminate our research.

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