1. “Enemy of the Constitution” – really?

    Even if he overreached his authority, I’m not sure that makes him an Enemy of the Constitution?

    I will comment on the issue of “Emergency Status”, however.

    We, as Americans, when travelling abroad, look to our government for advice in such situation as the Fukushima incident. It seems to me that even though Fukushima is in Japan, not America, and thus is not regulated by the NRC, that the NRC *is* the proper authority to provide the government’s official recommendations during such an emergency, because the recommendation Jazcko made was only affecting U.S. citizens.

    There was, I believe, a declared state of emergency made by the Japanese government, so it seems like that would reasonably invoke the Chairman’s emergency powers to the extent that he could make recommendations for the U.S. government’s response?

    The emergency did involve materials which are, in general, regulated by the NRC (even if they were in Japan and not *specifically* regulated/licensed by the NRC).

    All that said, I also agree with Rod’s position that Jazcko, A) Made the wrong decision because B) He was appointed inappropriately to a position he is not really qualified for.

    But I think there is room for argument that he did not overextend the emergency authority granted to him by Congress, and I think it’s a little extreme to declare him an enemy of the constitution.

    That’s the sort of rhetoric I see coming from directions like the Tea Party, and I think it’s extremely destructive to a functioning political process, as it’s overly divisive, and tends to polarize people on the other side of the aisle, making it less likely that democracy can work.

    1. Yes, we must never polarize, we must always agree. And when we have a enemy we must never identify or oppose him. This type of conversation avoid the issues and substitutes pakikisama (smooth relationships) for debate and truth.

      When a person stretches and extends the meaning of their authority for purely political gain they are a danger. If he had stretched or extended his authority to actually protect Americans, that would be somewhat understandable, but in this case it is overreaching since there was no actual danger. By danger to the constitution, I understand that Rod is pointing out the inherent danger to our republic in having unqualified people making unilateral decisions. I lived outside the USA for some years and watched these kind of decisions by unqualified politically appointed people happen so often that when a person who was qualified was appointed and began to work everyone was greatly relieved, well all the ordinary people were. Those who gained from having the political office, or who lost when they were not appointed, were constant gossips undermining the qualified often with the help of the “news.”

      I don’t wish to see our Republic turned into bananas. That is the danger to our constitution and the difference in large degree between the USA and many other countries.

      1. “Yes, we must never polarize, we must always agree.”

        Nice false dichotomy there. There’s a difference between respectful and rational disagreement, and name calling.

        All I request is that my fellow Americans try to engage in more civil disagreement. I think branding Jazcko as an “Enemy of the Constitution” and invoking the military oaths to defend the nation of all enemies foreign and domestic, just reeks of “witch hunt” mentality. It’s a short trip from there to McCarthy-esque hearings and blacklists.

        I should, perhaps, explain what I mean when I use the term “polarization” in the contexts of politics. There’s times when people disagree with you, but with reasonable persuasion, you might be able to get them to change their minds.

        But, if you start making extravagant accusations against others, like calling someone an “Enemy of the Constitution” when they thought they were reasonably responding to crisis and just trying to protect American citizens, not only do you upset them to a point where they are unlikely to ever listen to anything you say, no matter how reasonable, but anyone who is in any way sympathetic to the position or person you are attacking is likely also to stop ever listening to you.

        Then, there can be no compromise, no progress forward on correcting real problems. I see it all the time. People’s egos get in the way of doing the right thing because they’ve been attacked and insulted by others whose positions might be right, but whose personal attitudes are nasty and mean.

        I mean, just listen to your own langauge there, David, “And when we have a enemy. . .”. Jazcko isn’t “an enemy”. When we start labeling anyone we disagree with as an enemy, civil society breaks down.

        People who fear nuclear power more than they should, might be ignorant. They might be irrational. They aren’t our enemy, though.

      2. HI Jeff,

        Thank you for your reply. I do admit to tossing some straw from hyperbole, but I want to clearly identify what I mean by the use of the term enemy. First enemy does not mean evil, wicked, immoral. It does mean a person who is opposed to the purpose you hold. When a person is ignorant or irrational they are not an enemy. The former needs education the second needs isolation. An enemy is opposed, rationally, knowledgeably and deliberately opposed, to the purpose of something. In this case, the expansion of Nuclear power. I cannot conceive that the Chairman is either irrational or ignorant, especially of the political consequences of his actions. Since his actions seem quite unilateral, and have the unerring effect of squelching the development of nuclear power, I must conclude that he is an enemy of nuclear power. This is, as I understand the English language, the proper use of the term.

        At the same time, if he uses extra-constitutional means to forward his opposition. If he in essence breaks his oath of office and undermines the authority of congress, the president and the courts with his unilateral decisions, then he is not only an enemy of nuclear power, but an enemy of the constitution. Now, if you disagree with my assessment. I would love to hear your reasoning. Did I define my terms correctly? Did I analyze the chairman’s actions correctly? What do you think?

        Finally, you claim that he was reasonably responding to a crisis. I know that he claims reasonableness, but the pattern of his decision making belies that claim. Why only reference a staff member, and as he said, A staff member, when you have a full commission, full time paid professionals with years of experience to draw on? Why use a standard for Japan that is not being used in the USA and has little if any scientific basis?

        Either 1. He greatly distrusts his fellow commissioners feeling they are ignorant fools so that he will not listen to them, or 2. he knows his position to be unreasonable and does not want these to be on record as opposing that decision, or perhaps to place things in the best possible light, 3. he is so inexperienced and ignorant as to be making massive mistakes in judgment.

        What motive would you ascribe to his avoidance of good council in this decision? Have I missed something here?

        The purpose of regulation is to ensure smooth operation, regulation supports a purpose. The purpose of opposition is to hinder smooth operation and ultimately to cease operation. Is the chairman a regulator of or in opposition to nuclear power?

    2. @Jeff S – I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. Though I served in the military, I am not a radical and not a militant. My support and defense of the constitution is intellectual and verbal. I really do spend time studying the document, studying politics and studying history. I actually like politics – it is the civil way that a free people get things done.

      I truly love democracy, but I also respect merit, hard work and actually knowing how to do things. I always hated the “it’s not what you know but who you know” mentality that I have occasionally found.

      My point in bringing up my officer’s oath of office was to point out that many of us who serve take those words very seriously. Similar oaths are administered to other senior government officials.

      One of the fundamental principles embodied in our Constitution is its limitations on power. It does not establish a royalty or an aristocracy. It has a system of checks and balances that enable the system to function. As a system technologist, I think the founders did a pretty fair job of installing feedback and damping mechanisms that prevent things from getting out of control.

      One of those mechanisms is the freedom of the press. Though the established media does not like to admit it, blogs have a terrific heritage that passes through people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. They are essentially electronic, searchable, enduring pamphlets.

  2. It’s highly unlikely that someone in a graduate program in high-energy physics would have taken any engineering classes at all, much less a class in nuclear engineering.

  3. Absolutely appalling. Thank you VERY much, Rod, for printing this article. It’s a real eye opener. No matter what, everyone should realize that we don’t need some lackey professional manager in this position. They should question very strongly why he’s there. I can guarantee you I’ve had more time accumulated on head breaks from the RPCP than this guy has had in any part of a control room, or Maneuvering room.

  4. I am still too inexperienced in the industry to recognize whether this finding was truly worthy of a red notice from the NRC, but after reading this posting of Rod’s this morning, I have to wonder if the timing of this announcement from the NRC (this article was posted about 20 minutes ago) isn’t a little fishy in relation to the NY Times article.


  5. Thanks, Will.

    It sounds like TVA has done some diligence to correct the problem with the valve and created a plan to ensure that the other valves of the same design won’t be subject to the same problem. The corrective action program seems to be in the process of working in this case.

    Does it really sound as though a red finding was warranted?

    1. Joel, I think the red finding was related to the fact that 1) the valve was safety related for emergency response, and 2) incapable of opening for two years before it was discovered.

      Since it’s a mitigating system that was broken for a significant period of time, the risk significance would drive the finding to red.

      To refute the red finding, the utility would have to demonstrate that the risk of the broken valve was not so high – that even while it could not be opened, had the site needed that flow path for emergency cooling, there are enough other ways of providing flow to the core that reactor would have been protected without the use of the valve.

      1. As a retired NPP Engineer I can unequivocally state that this would not have received this level of a finding 4-5 years ago. And, after speaking with an engineer, whom is still working, the impression is that the NRC has ratcheted up most, if not all, findings. He also stated that there is a potential for several more plants to end up with “RED” findings.


    2. The plant’s report of the issue stated that there were other systems that could have performed the needed function, so red does not seem to be a possible outcome, unless the NRC were giving them no credit for those systems. The NRC’s oversight process is supposed to take all of these aspects into consideration, however sometimes they inexplicably don’t.

      In the late 80’s the NRC allowed BWRs to change their Tech Specs to only test this particular valve during outages (18-24 months). Testing at power had led to all sorts of unpleasant events (Interfacing system LOCAs) in the early 80’s. The risk evaluation of that Tech Spec change concluded the likelihood of failure to operate was very low, and the likelihood of unpleasant events was high enough that it was a net safety benefit to only test during outages. In TVA’s case, that means the only opportunity to identify the manufacturing defect with the valve was during an outage.

  6. I warned the pro-nuclear bloggers what would happen when Obama got elected, and lo and behold, it did happen. Jackzo is anti-nuclear power to the core.

  7. Jackzo came to Vermont Yankee and standing in front of a room full of engineers, many having 20-30 years of nuclear experience, referred to himself as a scientist. I’m sure that he didn’t have a clue that you don’t begin a conversation with an engineer by referring to yourself as a scientist and expecting to get respect from your audience.
    Rod as you know the only thing experienced engineers respect is experience and factual problem solving. It was plain to everyone in the room that Jackzo had no experience or understanding beyond that required of a politician. Zero respect.

  8. Jackzo came to Vermont Yankee and … referred to himself as a scientist.

    Scientist … minion … I can see where it’s easy to get the two terms mixed up, since they both appear together in the same B-grade horror films.

    Jackzo should remember, however, that he’s not the guy giving the orders (that would be Reid); he’s the guy throwing the switch.

  9. Regulators like Jaczko have more power to influence than the President himself it seems. Am I wrong? Does Obama play the “helpless” card too often?
    Just fire the guy.

    The pattern seems pretty clear their is a direct relationship between public fears and regulatory actions.

    When the wrong people are calling the shots like prima donnas and when regulators go through the motions of superficial self-education every time a new design is introduced for licensing we have a democratic crisis because issues around climate change and energy efficiency are too important to be dependent on four year voting cycles.

    Common sense has lost its rightful place in politics. We have regulations motivated by irrational fears and political power being immobilized by incompetent advisors.

  10. I have been reading all I can to educate myself about np so that I can hold an informed position. The process is ongoing but I don’t think I will be turning to Rod for information any longer, he’s lost it.

  11. At this point, David Lochbaum looks like he would make a better chairman than Jaczko (though it’s obvious that a lot of others would too).

    At least Lochbaum was a nuke engineer. And even though the media tends to quote him in ways that make him seem anti-nuke, when taken in the proper context, he appears much more neutral.

    I think a lot of what the UCS does is a joke (c’mon, cow farts?), but given the proper resources and budget, he might be able to make a positive impact on the agency. Unless he has some sort of seedy, underlying motivations I’m not aware of…

    Besides his ideas about licensing a repository before licensing new plants, I haven’t seen any attitudes of his that would halt the progress of the industry. Or is that attitude just a front for genuinely anti-nuclear sentiments, since he might think a repository won’t happen any time in the near future? In any case, if anyone here knows more about him, or anyone else that might be a good candidate if Jaczko is forced to resign, I’d be very interested to know!


    1. Seriously, David Lochbaum. Did you actually read what he was quoted as saying in the NYT article? Essentially he said that the only thing that separated Fukushima from the service water leak at Byron was luck? Amazing no mention of a 14 meter Tsunami. Statements like call into question his overall knowledge of integrated plant design and operation.
      Lochbaum feathers his own nest alternately sounding reasonable and than making preposterous statements. Just because he worked for the NRC doesn’t make him qualified or knowledgeable.
      One thing everyone should learn from the experience with Jaczko is that you should not be put in charge of a regulatory agency if you do not believe in the mission. By and large the NRC does an outstanding job and it is being dragged down by the deadweight of a pseudo expert.

      1. Apparently I missed that one. It’s pretty hard to find any context where that could be construed as supporting the industry! Thanks for the info.

  12. Jaczko is a sandbag put in a dyke to hold back the flood of new nuclear technology that is being applied everywhere else but here. To that extent, the intended function of the US Constitution is “Damned” by the wrong direction he provides to his office at the NRC. The relentless flow in nuclear information available around the world will, at some point, breech the dyke in which jaczko is established.

    Does Jaczko know about the knew idea right under his feet? Is he more concerned with pulling the rug from under the feet of rate payers? …..claiming the “New Idea” is being applied. I question the logic of fracturing the very ground upon which we stand when “An act of God” will only use those fractures to bury use in the future. Inside the “Beltway” things may be dry for now but the coming flood of new nuclear is of the wet kind.

  13. In usual D.C. form, Mr. Jaczko attempts to throw staff members under the bus when he states he used a staff recommendation to establish the 50-mile evacuation zone. Ultimately it was his decision to publically declare the zone in a foreign country where Americans where under no imminent danger from the problems at the nuclear power plant. The earthquake and tsunami, yes but not the reactors.

    What question did Mr. Jaczko ask of the staff and how was it asked? That would have been good to hear a House committee member to ask. Maybe the question was framed differently than from how the information was eventually used. Did they know their answer would be broadcast around the world? Were the staff members working under the assumption they were just brainstorming for Jaczko?

    Secondly, for Jaczko to be able to lock out committee members from having real time access in the operations center is just wrong. All committee members should have equal access to the operations center to allow real time access to the data coming in during a crisis. To have the power to exclude committee members is just asking for an abuse of power situation to occur.

    Having one person in charge when critical decisions need to be made in the middle of a crisis is one thing and is expected. However, any good leader will want the best resources they have around during the time of a crisis. In addition, that leader will want those people to have the best info they can receive in order to provide good input leading up to a final decision. Excluding experienced and dedicated committee members from having that access is just a power grab plain and simple.

    Finally, the events in Japan were not a U.S. national emergency and the NRC had no direct responsibility towards resolving the issues with the Japanese reactors. So why did Jaczko declare an emergency and take total control of the NRC? It was a time for the NRC to mobilize but it was not the time for Jazczko to declare emergency powers since the United States were not the ones to experience a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a 15-meter high tsunami. Even though there might have been Americans in harm’s way, the President, the FEMA director, the director of Homeland Security, etc could not declare an emergency under the conditions presented by the earthquake in Japan, so how can Jaczko?

    I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that Jaczko is an enemy to the Constitution; however, I will agree that he is a prime example of why political appointees should never be put in place in technical leadership positions. And I will state the rules Jaczko is operating under need to change so he and his successor will never again do a power grab while in the NRC Chairmanship position.

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