Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News January through March

January 7, 2022, 10:35AMNuclear News

This is the second of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the January-March time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

  • Click here to see the first article in the series.

The NRC: Observations on commissioner appointments

February 26, 2021, 4:59PMUpdated December 27, 2021, 4:00PMNuclear NewsSteven P. Nesbit and Paul T. Dickman
The NRC Commission following the departure of Chairman Svinicki in January and Commissioner Caputo in June of this year.

At the end of 2021, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. This article is from our February issue that focused on policy. Hopefully, Nuclear News will be updating this story in 2022 if the Biden administration follows the recommendation of ANS leadership to fill the vacant seats.

In 2015, we wrote an article for Nuclear News analyzing the history of commissioners appointed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and assessing their backgrounds, experience, and qualifications at the time of their appointment. At the time, ANS had not established a formal position statement on NRC commissioner appointees. Our article provided an objective assessment of historical patterns and was used to develop ANS position statement #77, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2016). This article draws upon the 2015 article and provides updated data and analysis. Also, the recommendations of the position statement are applied to the current vacancy on the commission.

At Senate hearing, Markey attacks, Hanson defends

December 8, 2021, 9:36AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Markey

At an otherwise congenial Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight hearing held last week by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) made clear his strong disagreement with the agency’s November 3 decision to approve a proposed rule amending regulations for nuclear plants undergoing decommissioning.

“I fear the NRC now stands for Not Recognizing Concerns,” Markey said. “The NRC has decided that the best way to shield itself from criticism around the decommissioning process is to take itself out of the process. In the latest version of the proposed decommissioning rule, the NRC would have no ability to approve, no ability to change, no ability to deny plants’ decommissioning proposals, known as post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports. Its only job would be to acknowledge receipt of the report. Our independent nuclear safety regulator would serve as a glorified filing cabinet. Ceding the job of regulator to the nuclear industry itself is not a win for safety, communities, or for the energy sector.”

ANS weighs in on NRC vacancies

December 8, 2021, 7:00AMANS News

In a November letter to President Biden, ANS president Steven Nesbit and U.S. Nuclear Industry Council president and chief executive officer Bud Albright urged the president to proceed with nominations for the two open seats on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The letter stated, “The NRC operates best with a full complement of five qualified commissioners who have diverse and complementary backgrounds. . . . Unfortunately, the commission was last at full strength in January 2021, nearly a year ago.”

NRC names new director for operations

October 5, 2021, 2:40PMNuclear News

Dorman

Daniel H. Dorman has been chosen as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s next executive director for operations, effective October 10. He succeeds Margaret M. Doane, who leaves the agency October 8 to take a senior position with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dorman currently serves as the NRC’s deputy executive director for reactor and preparedness programs, which includes oversight of all four of the agency’s regional offices.

“Dan has admirably served the NRC for more than 30 years in key leadership positions,” said NRC chairman Christopher T. Hanson. “He is someone who keenly understands the needs of our agency and our people. Dan is a problem solver, a champion for agency modernization and innovation, and has proven through results his ability to rally our staff for a common purpose. He has earned the respect of our workforce, the NRC leadership, and the agency’s diverse stakeholders.”

NRC EDO leaves for senior position at IAEA

September 13, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Doane

Margaret Doane, the first female executive director for operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will depart the agency on October 8 to take the position of deputy director general for management at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the NRC announced this morning.

Doane, who has been the NRC’s EDO since July 2018, began her career at the agency in 1991 as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary. Her senior leadership roles have included serving as an attorney in the Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication, chief of staff for former commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield, and NRC general counsel—a position she held from 2012 to 2018. Doane has international experience as well, having served in the Office of International Programs, both as deputy director and director.

Commissioner Caputo to leave NRC on June 30

June 23, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Caputo

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Annie Caputo will depart the agency when her term expires at the end of this month, NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson said yesterday. Her departure will leave the five-seat panel with only three commissioners—the minimum number required for it to conduct business—as former chairman Kristine Svinicki resigned in January of this year.

At this writing, Caputo has not announced her post-NRC plans.

Remaining on the commission are two Democrats, Hanson and Jeff Baran, and one Republican, David Wright. President Biden has not named a replacement for either of the vacancies and can choose only one Democrat, since no more than three commissioners can be from the same political party.

Statement from the American Nuclear Society on the appointment of Christopher T. Hanson as NRC chair

January 24, 2021, 7:11PMPress Releases

On behalf of America’s nuclear professionals, we applaud President Biden for designating ANS member Christopher T. Hanson as chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The NRC plays a critical role in ensuring nuclear technology and materials are used safely to provide zero-carbon energy, detect and treat cancer, and protect the food supply, among many other applications.