1. This reminds me about a story someone told me about a woman who had plans to infiltrate by gaining employment at a nuclear power plant. She was a nuclear protestor at Diablo Canyon who then went to college to get a degree in nuclear engineering so she could qualify for a nuclear plant job.

    In the process, that woman learned so much she did a complete 180 in her position and thus her plan for employment became her career which she passionately embraced.

    It seems that Jaczko had no such definite plan to infiltrate from an early start, but rather stumbled to the top by rubbing elbos with the right people.

    What I find odd about him is that his science background should have given him at least a predisposition toward being at least intrigued by nuclear energy- especially since his background was in particle physics and not something like geology botany.

    What I find most disheartening about these political placements (and this can happen in large companies too) is that it sends the wrong hypocritical message to young people. They (and we) are told that if you work hard, study hard, get the grades, and treat others well that you can go far in life.

    But there is another sad truth- if you know the right people, if you parrot their thoughts and words, ally with a selfish agenda, bully and backstab others who get in your way, then you too can rise to the top echelons of an organization. And then when or if you resign, you can get a kiss-and-tell book deal with a fat pension on top to boot.

    1. Rubbing elbows with the right people?

      I have a feeling that the contact was more anterior to posterior, if you know what I mean.

  2. Rod – While I agree with you completely on what constitutes a functional regulatory relationship, I’ve begun to think that we have become out-dated idealists. These days, too many federal regulators apparently think that their only job is to march into town and crucify somebody.

    This is merely a symptom of a diseased country that manufactures very little of anything these days except entertainment, lawsuits, and environmental impact statements. Even the quality of the entertainment is at an all-time low (did we really need a second Spider Man movie?).

    Why is anyone surprised that we’re now saddled with a second NRC Chairman in a row that has no experience or training at all in nuclear science and technology? This is what happens when you elect lawyers to appoint academics who pretend to get something done. Notice that nothing actually gets done.

    It’s time for amateur hour to be over.

  3. There are a few people who are skilled technically, and who have enough interest in science or engineering to devote a significant period of time to studying it and earning an advanced degree, but their true passion is obtaining and having power. The reason this type of individual gets a PhD is not because they have a passion for science (as most who go that far do), but see the degree as a necessary checkmark of credibility to gain the influence they seek. My impression of Jaczko was that he was one of these such people, both from his actions and words.

    Ultimately, it was his hubris that brought him down at the NRC. He couldn’t admit the simple fact that any good leader of a large group of technical people has to learn: they usually don’t know what is best, and need to heed the advice of their subordinates when it comes to technical matters they are most qualified in. Despite his lack of nuclear energy-centric knowledge, the skills needed to run the NRC could have been gained elsewhere. Had he spent several successful years, for instance, in the senior management at Brookhaven or Fermilab, he probably would have acquired those executive experience required for his former position.

    As it stands, it’s good for the agency and the country that he’s gone. He was blatantly unqualified both technically and administratively for the job, and did everything wrong. Let’s hope the person who follows can learn from his mistakes and not repeat them.

  4. Wow. I can actually feel my blood pressure increasing while reading that. Absolutely disgusting.

    So what’s to keep somebody else from “changing the culture” and turning the NRC into a government anti-nuclear movement with the ability to shut down every plant in the country?

  5. Isn’t it ironic Democrats want clean and reliable energy for the future but are against nuclear power plants? If we have a Chairman that actually had a clue how nuclear plant operate and the redundant safety systems associated with them, then maybe we could get new reactors approved and built quicker.

    I just started working for an engineering firm (I’ll remain anonymous), but my department deals primarily with nuclear and the amount of work that goes into changing any component within a nuclear plant is crazy. The paperwork, reviews, checks, and operating procedures ensure the integrity of the plant, as well as the safety. I no longer find terrorists a threat to nuclear plants due to the mind boggling amount of security.

    It does over a dozen documents to just request approval to uninstall a light in the RCA building. I can’t imagine the amount of work that is about to go into repairing the containment at Crystal River Unit 3…

    All people need is a 30 minute presentation from me and I guarantee I’ll convince them nuclear is safe and reliable.

  6. Jackzo is the living embodiment of the dysfunction within our political class: certified and pedigreed but lacking any tangible qualifications and skills to shepherd an industry he has been put in charge of.

    Its like William Buckley said – “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

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