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Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Agency overview
Formed January 19, 1975
Preceding agency
Headquarters Rockville, Maryland
Employees 4,211 (Sept. 2010)
Agency executive
  • Stephen G. Burns, Chairman

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is an United States Atomic Energy Commission, the NRC's role is to protect public health and safety related to nuclear energy. It oversees reactor safety and security, reactor licensing and renewal, licensing of radioactive materials, radionuclide safety, and spent fuel management including storage, security, recycling, and disposal.


  • History 1
  • Mission and Commissioners 2
  • Organization 3
    • Regions 3.1
  • Recordkeeping system 4
  • Training and accreditation 5
  • Terrorism threats 6
  • Prospective nuclear units 7
  • Criticism 8
  • Developments since 2011 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Prior to 1975 the Atomic Energy Commission was in charge of matters regarding radionuclides. The AEC was dissolved, because it was perceived as unduly favoring the industry it was charged with regulating.[1] The NRC was formed as an independent commission to oversee nuclear energy matters, oversight of nuclear medicine, and nuclear safety.

The U.S. AEC became the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) in 1975, responsible for development and oversight of nuclear weapons. Research and promotion of civil uses of radioactive materials, such as for nuclear non-destructive testing, nuclear medicine, and nuclear power, was split into the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science & Technology within ERDA by the same act. In 1977, ERDA became the United States Department of Energy (DOE). In 2000, the National Nuclear Security Administration was created as a subcomponent of DOE, responsible for nuclear weapons.[2]

Twelve years into NRC operations, a 1987 Congressional report entitled "NRC Coziness with Industry"[3] concluded, that the NRC "has not maintained an arms length regulatory posture with the commercial nuclear power industry... [and] has, in some critical areas, abdicated its role as a regulator altogether".[1] To cite three examples:

A 1986 Congressional report found that NRC staff had provided valuable technical assistance to the utility seeking an operating license for the controversial [1]

The origins and development of NRC regulatory processes and policies are explained in five volumes of history published by the University of California Press. These are:[2]

  • Controlling the Atom: The Beginnings of Nuclear Regulation 1946-1962 (1984).
  • Containing the Atom: Nuclear Regulation in a Changing Environment, 1963-1971 (1992).
  • Permissible Dose: A History of Radiation Protection in the Twentieth Century (2000)
  • Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective (2004)
  • The Road to Yucca Mountain: The Development of Radioactive Waste Policy in the United States (2009).

The NRC has produced a readable booklet, A Short History of Nuclear Regulation 1946-2009, which outlines key issues in NRC history. Thomas Wellock, a former academic, is the NRC historian. Before joining the NRC, Wellock wrote Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-1978.[2]

Mission and Commissioners

The NRC's mission is to regulate the nation's civilian use of byproduct, source, and special nuclear materials to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, to promote the common defense and security, and to protect the environment. The NRC's regulatory mission covers three main areas:

  • Reactors - Commercial reactors for generating electric power and research and test reactors used for research, testing, and training
  • Materials - Uses of nuclear materials in medical, industrial, and academic settings and facilities that produce nuclear fuel
  • Waste - Transportation, storage, and disposal of nuclear materials and waste, and decommissioning of nuclear facilities from service.

The NRC is headed by five Commissioners appointed by the

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (official website)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the Federal Register
  • NRC public blog
  • NRC list of power-producing nuclear reactors
  • NRC list of non-power-producing reactors
  • Canceled Nuclear Units Ordered in the US
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Policy and Governance Challenges: Joint Hearing before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power and the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, February 28, 2013
  • The future of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
  • Technical Report Archive and Image Library (TRAIL) from

External links

  1. ^ a b c John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 163.
  2. ^ a b c NRC (2013). "NRC history". NRC website. 
  3. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Subcommittee on General, Oversight and Investigations (1987). "NRC' COZINESS- WITH" INDUSTRY" Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fails to Maintain Arms Length Relationship with the Nuclear Industry". An Investigative Report 100th" Congress First Session. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane". NRC. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Allison Macfarlane Confirmed by U.S. Senate to Lead Nuclear Regulatory Commission". George Mason University. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane" (PDF). U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Public Affairs. 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  7. ^ NRC's New Chairman Defines Nuclear Goals, "National Press Club." Retrieved 14 August 2012
  8. ^ Wald, Matthew (June 10, 2013). "N.R.C. Nomination Shines Spotlight on Waste-Disposal". Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Talbot, David (June 23, 2009). "Life after Yucca Mountain". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ Mufson, Steven (May 24, 2012). "Obama nominates George Mason professor Allison M. Macfarlane as NRC chairwoman". Washington Post. 
  11. ^ a b "Organization & Functions". website. NRC. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Allegations". NRC. 28 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Federal Register NRC". website. Federal Register. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Congressional Budget Justification: Fiscal Year 2015 (NUREG-1100, Volume 30)". NUREG-1100, Volume 30. NRC. March 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "NRC Document Collections". website. NRC. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "FAQ About the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System". website. NRC. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  17. ^ US Congress. House Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Energy Research and Production, US President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island (1980). "Kemeny Commission findings: Oversight". Committee Report. U.S. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 40–129. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  18. ^ Lanouette, William (January 1980). "The Kemeny Commission Report". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: 20–24. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  19. ^ NEI (2014). "National Academy for Nuclear Training Program". websute. Nuclear Energy Institute Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  20. ^ Pate, Zack T. (Autumn 1986). "INPO's impact in the USA". International Atomic Energy Agency Bulletin (International Atomic Energy Agency): 60–62. 
  21. ^ a b Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) (2012). "About us". website. Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). 
  22. ^ "PG&E Senior Vice President Appointed to National Nuclear Accrediting Board". website. Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014. The independent National Nuclear Accrediting Board evaluates operator and technical training programs for nuclear plants throughout the industry, ensuring that accredited training programs meet the highest standards for excellence and incorporate best practices. 
  23. ^ NRC (September 2001). "The United States of America National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety". NUREG-1650. NRC. pp. 11–15. Retrieved 21 May 2014. In accordance with its memorandum of agreement with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), the NRC monitors INPO accreditation activities as part of its assessment of the effectiveness of the industry's training programs. (The NRC also monitors the selected performance areas of its licensees as part of its assessment.) The NRC monitors INPO activities by observing accreditation team visits and the monthly National Nuclear Accrediting Board meetings. 
  24. ^ a b NRc. "Related Documents and Other Resources". website. 
  25. ^ NRC (February 9, 1994). "Renewal of Licenses and Requalification Requirements for Licensed Operators". Federal Register Volume 59, Number 27. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  26. ^ NRC (23 April 1999). "Initial Licensed Operator Examination Requirements". Federal Register Volume 64, Number 78. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  27. ^ NRC (23 April 1999). "Subpart E--Written Examinations and Operating Tests". NRC Regulations (10 CFR) PART 55—Operators licenses, § 55.40 Implementation. NRC. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  28. ^ NRC (20 September 2000). "Staff Meetings Open to the Public: Final Policy Statement". Federal Register Volume 65 Number 183. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  29. ^ Jay Davis (25 March 2008). "After A Nuclear 9/11". Washington Post. 
  30. ^ Averting Catastrophe p. 338.
  31. ^ a b Nicholas Kristof (10 March 2004). "A Nuclear 9/11". NY Times. 
  32. ^ a b Ayesha Rascoe (Feb 9, 2012). "U.S. approves first new nuclear plant in a generation". Reuters. 
  33. ^ Eileen O'Grady. Entergy says nuclear remains costly Reuters, May 25, 2010.
  34. ^ Terry Ganey. AmerenUE pulls plug on project Columbia Daily Tribune, April 23, 2009.
  35. ^ Matthew Wald (June 11, 2013). "Atomic Power’s Green Light or Red Flag". New York Times. 
  36. ^ "Experts: Even higher costs and more headaches for nuclear power in 2012". MarketWatch. 28 December 2011. 
  37. ^ Mark Cooper (18 June 2013). "Nuclear aging: Not so graceful". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 
  38. ^ a b Matthew Wald (June 14, 2013). "Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected". New York Times. 
  39. ^ John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 160.
  40. ^ a b Justin Elliott (17 March 2011). "Ex-regulator flacking for pro-nuke lobby". Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  41. ^ Daniel Kaufmann (April 1, 2011). "Preventing Nuclear Meltdown: Assessing Regulatory Failure in Japan and the United States". Brookings. 
  42. ^ a b Ben Berkowitz and Roberta Rampton (April 18, 2011). "Exclusive: U.S. nuclear regulator a policeman or salesman?". Reuters. 
  43. ^ Hannah Northey (28 March 2011). "Japanese Nuclear Reactors, U.S. Safety to Take Center Stage on Capitol Hill This Week". New York Times. 
  44. ^ a b c Kate Sheppard (17 March 2011). "Is the Government's Nuclear Regulator Up to the Job?".  
  45. ^ Frank Von Hippel (23 March 2011). "It Could Happen Here". New York Times. 
  46. ^ Charles Perrow (November/December 2011 vol. 67 no. 6). "Fukushima and the inevitability of accidents". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. pp. 44–52. 
  47. ^ Jia Lynn Yang (March 18, 2011). "Democrats step up pressure on nuclear regulators over disaster preparedness". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  48. ^ Onell R. Soto (April 28, 2011). "Anti-nuclear protest planned at NRC meeting". SignOnSanDiego. 
  49. ^ Ayesha Rascoe (Feb 9, 2012). "U.S. approves first new nuclear plant in a generation". Reuters. 
  50. ^ Mark Cooper (July 2011). "The implications of Fukushima: The US perspective". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 67 (4). p. 9. 
  51. ^ Matthew Wald (October 4, 2011). "The N.R.C. Goes Social". New York Times. 
  52. ^ Matthew L. Wald (July 28, 2011). "U.S. Regulator Says Fukushima Lessons Can Percolate". New York Times. 
  53. ^ Peter Fairley (March 15, 2011). "Fukushima's Spreading Impact". Technology Review. 
  54. ^ a b c "Fukushima Fallout: 45 Groups and Individuals Petition NRC to Suspend All Nuclear Reactor Licensing and Conduct a "Credible" Three Mile Island-Style Review". PRNewswire. April 14, 2011. 
  55. ^ Carly Nairn (14 April 2011). "Anti nuclear movement gears up". San Francisco Bay Guardian. 
  56. ^ Matthew Wald (June 15, 2011). "U.S. Reactors Unprepared for Total Power Loss, Report Suggests". New York Times. 
  57. ^ Andrew Restuccia (2011-10-20). "Nuke regulators toughen safety rules". The Hill. 
  58. ^ "NRC chair warns nuclear industry against complacency, says it must resolve long-running issues". Washington Post. 11 November 2011. 


See also

In November 2011, Jaczko warned power companies against complacency and said the agency must "push ahead with new rules prompted by the nuclear crisis in Japan, while also resolving long-running issues involving fire protection and a new analysis of earthquake risks".[58]

NRC officials stated in June 2011 that US nuclear safety rules do not adequately weigh the risk of a single event that would knock out electricity from the grid and from emergency generators, as a quake and tsunami did in Japan.[56] In October 2011, and NRC instructed agency staff to move forward with seven of the 12 safety recommendations put forward by a federal task force in July 2011. The recommendations include "new standards aimed at strengthening operators’ ability to deal with a complete loss of power, ensuring plants can withstand floods and earthquakes and improving emergency response capabilities". The new safety standards will take up to five years to fully implement.[57]

The petitioners asked the NRC to supplement its own investigation by establishing an independent commission comparable to that set up in the wake of the less severe 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The petitioners included Public Citizen, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.[54]

The petition seeks suspension of six existing reactor license renewal decisions (Columbia Generating Station, WA Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, OH, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, CA, Indian Point Energy Center, NY, Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station, MA, and Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, NH); 13 new reactor combined construction permit and operating license decisions (Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station Units 3 and 4, AL, Bell Bend, Callaway Nuclear Generating Station, MO, Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Generating Station, MD, Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, TX, Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station, MI, Levy County Nuclear Power Plant]], FL North Anna Nuclear Generating Station, VA, Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant, NC, South Texas Nuclear Generating Station, TX, Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, FL, Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, GA, and William States Lee III Nuclear Generating Station, SC);a construction permit decision (Bellefonte Units 1 and 2); and an operating license decision (Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station, TN). In addition, the petition asks the NRC to halt proceedings to approve the standardized AP1000 and Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor designs.[54]

In 2011, a total of 45 groups and individuals from across the nation formally asked the NRC to suspend all licensing and other activities at 21 proposed nuclear reactor projects in 15 states until the NRC completed a thorough post-Fukushima nuclear disaster examination:[54][55]

In 2011 Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, criticized the NRC's response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the decision-making on the proposed Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design.[52][53]

Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying "I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened".[49] In July 2011, Mark Cooper said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is "on the defensive to prove it is doing its job of ensuring safety".[50] In October 2011, Jaczko described "a tension between wanting to move in a timely manner on regulatory questions, and not wanting to go too fast".[51]

Developments since 2011

San Clemente Green, an environmental group opposed to the continued operation of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant, said in 2011 that instead of being a watchdog, the NRC too often rules in favor nuclear plant operators.[48]

In April 2011, Reuters reported that diplomatic cables showed NRC sometimes being used as a sales tool to help push American technology to foreign governments, when "lobbying for the purchase of equipment made by Westinghouse Electric Company and other domestic manufacturers". This gives the appearance of a regulator which is acting in a commercial capacity, "raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest".[42]

In March 2011, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study critical of the NRC's 2010 performance as a regulator. The UCS said that over the years, it had found the NRC's enforcement of safety rules has not been “timely, consistent, or effective" and it cited 14 "near-misses" at U.S. plants in 2010 alone.[47]

In Vermont, the day before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that damaged Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the NRC approved a 20-year extension for the license of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, although the Vermont state legislature voted overwhelmingly to deny an extension.[44] The plant had been found to be leaking radioactive materials through a network of underground pipes, which Entergy had denied under oath even existed. At a hearing in 2009 Tony Klein, chairman of the Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy Committee had asked the NRC about the pipes and the NRC also did not know they existed.[44]

A worker (named Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Connecticut kept warning management, that the spent fuel rods were being put too quickly into the spent storage pool and that the number of rods in the pool exceeded specifications. Management ignored him, so he went directly to the NRC, which eventually admitted that it knew of both of the forbidden practices, which happened at many plants, but chose to ignore them. The whistleblower was fired and blacklisted.[46]

An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated that many forms of NRC regulatory failure exist, including regulations ignored by the common consent of NRC and industry:

Nuclear power regulation is a textbook example of the problem of “regulatory capture” — in which an industry gains control of an agency meant to regulate it. Regulatory capture can be countered only by vigorous public scrutiny and Congressional oversight, but in the 32 years since Three Mile Island, interest in nuclear regulation has declined precipitously.[45]

Frank N. von Hippel wrote in March 2011, that despite the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, the NRC has often been too timid in ensuring that America’s 104 commercial reactors are operated safely:

Numerous different observers have criticized the NRC as an example of regulatory capture[40][41] The NRC has been accused of having conflicting roles as regulator and "salesman" in a 2011 Reuters article,[42] doing an inadequate job by the Union of Concerned Scientists.[43] and has the agency approval process has been called a "rubber stamp".[44]

Barack Obama, when running for president in 2007, said that the five-member NRC had become "captive of the industries that it regulates"[40]

Byrne and Hoffman wrote in 1996, that since the 1980s the NRC has generally favored the interests of nuclear industry, and been unduly responsive to industry concerns, while failing to pursue tough regulation. The NRC has often sought to hamper or deny public access to the regulatory process, and created new barriers to public participation.[39]


Between 2007 and 2009, 13 companies applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for construction and operating licenses to build 25 new nuclear power reactors in the United States. However, the case for widespread nuclear plant construction was eroded due to abundant natural gas supplies, slow electricity demand growth in a weak U.S. economy, lack of financing, and uncertainty following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.[32] Many license applications for proposed new reactors were suspended or cancelled.[33][34] Only a few new reactors will enter service by 2020.[32] These will not be the cheapest energy options available, but they are an attractive investment for utilities because the government mandates that taxpayers pay for construction in advance.[35][36] In 2013, four aging reactors were permanently closed: San Onofre 2 and 3 in California, Crystal River 3 in Florida, and Kewaunee in Wisconsin.[37][38] Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, was shut down on December 29, 2014, following many protests. New York State is seeking to close Indian Point Energy Center, in Buchanan, 30 miles from New York City.[38]

Prospective nuclear units

Terrorist attacks such as those executed by Al-Qaeda in New York on September 11, 2001 and in London on July 7, 2005 have prompted fears that extremist groups might use radioactive dirty bombs in further attacks in the United States and elsewhere.[29][30][31] In March 2007, undercover investigators from the Government Accountability Office set up a false company and obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would have allowed them to buy the radioactive materials needed for a dirty bomb. According to the GAO report, NRC officials did not visit the company or attempt to personally interview its executives. Instead, within 28 days, the NRC mailed the license to the West Virginia postal box. Upon receipt of the license, GAO officials were able to easily modify its stipulations, and remove a limit on the amount of radioactive material they could buy. A spokesman for the NRC said that the agency considered the radioactive devices a "lower-level threat"; a bomb built with the materials could have contaminated an area about the length of a city block, but would not have presented an immediate health hazard.[31]

NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland

Terrorism threats

Since 2000 meetings between NRC and applicants or licensees have been open to the public.[28]

In 1999, NRC issued a final rule on operator initial licensing examination,[26] that allows, but does not require, companies to "prepare, proctor, and grade" their own operator initial licensing examinations. Facilities can "upon written request" continue to have the examinations prepared and administered by NRC staff, but if a company volunteers to prepare the examination, NRC continues to approve and administer it.[27]

In 1993, NRC endorsed the industry's approach to training that had been used for nearly a decade through its 'Training Rule'.[24] In February 1994, NRC passed the 'Operator Requalification Rule' 59 FR 5938, Feb. 9, 1994,[25] allowing each nuclear power plant company -rather than the agency- to conduct the operator licensing renewal examination every six years, eliminating the requirement of NRC-administered written requalification examination.

The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act directed NRC in Section 306 to issue regulations or "other appropriate regulatory guidance" on training of nuclear plant personnel. Since the nuclear industry already had developed training and accreditation, NRC issued a policy statement in 1985, endorsing the INPO program. NRC has a memorandum of agreement with INPO and "monitors INPO activities by observing accreditation team visits and the monthly NNAB meetings".[23]

The 1980 Kemeny Commission's report[17] after the Three Mile Island accident recommended that the nuclear energy industry "set and police its own standards of excellence".[18] The nuclear industry founded the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) within 9 months to establish personnel training and qualification. The industry through INPO created the 'National Academy for Nuclear Training Program' either as early as 1980[19] or in September 1985 per the International Atomic Energy Agency.[20] INPO refers to NANT as "our National Academy for Nuclear Training" on its website.[21] NANT integrates and standardizes the training programs of INPO and US nuclear energy companies, offers training scholarships and interacts with the 'National Nuclear Accrediting Board'. This Board is closely related to the 'National Academy for Nuclear Training', not a government body, and referred to as independent by INPO,[21] the Nuclear Energy Institute, and nuclear utilities.[22] but not by the NRC, all of whom are represented on the Board

NRC conducts audits and training inspections, observes the National Nuclear Accrediting Board meetings, and nominates some members.

Commission headquarters

Training and accreditation

NRC has a library, which also contains online document collections.[15] In 1999 it started an electronic repository called ADAMS, the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System.[16] for its public inspection reports, correspondence, and other technical documents written by NRC staff, contractors, and licensees. It has been upgraded in October 2010 and is now webbased. Of documents from 1980-1999 only some have abstracts and/or full text, most are citations. Documents from before 1980 are available in paper or microfiche formats. Copies of these older documents or classified documents can be applied for with a FOIA request.

Recordkeeping system

  • Each power-producing reactor site has resident inspectors, who monitor day-to-day operations.
  • Numerous special inspection teams, with many different specialties, routinely conduct inspections at each site.

In these four regions NRC oversees the operation of US nuclear reactors, namely 104 power-producing reactors, and 36 non-power-producing reactors. Oversight is done on several levels. For example:

Map of the NRC Regions

The NRC territory is broken down into 4 geographical regions; until the late 1990s, there was a Region V office in Walnut Creek, California which was absorbed into Region IV, and Region V was dissolved.


NRC headquarters offices are located in suburban Rockville, Maryland, and there are four regional offices.

NRC's proposed FY 2015 budget is $1,059.5 million, with 3,895.9 full-time equivalents (FTE), 90 percent of which is recovered by fees. This is an increase of $3.6 million, including 65.1 FTE, compared to FY 2014.[14]

Of these operations offices, NRC's major program components are the first five offices mentioned above.[13]

There are altogether 17 Executive Director for Operations offices: Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, Office of New Reactors, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, [11]

The NRC consists of the Commission on the one hand and offices of the Executive Director for Operations on the other.[11] The Commission is divided into two committees (Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes) and one Board, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, as well as 8 commission staff offices (Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication, Office of Congressional Affairs, Office of the General Counsel, Office of International Programs, Office of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Executive Director for Operations).


MacFarlane was a member of the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future,[6] which was charged by the Secretary of Energy to examine the issues associated with nuclear waste disposal in the United States.[7] Macfarlane is "a long time critic" of storing spent nuclear fuel in a mountain near Las Vegas called Yucca Mountain.[8] She has stated that the seismic and volcanic activity as well as oxidizing in the environment would make the nuclear waste unstable. MacFarlane supports storing nuclear waste at reactor sites in dry casks and the allocation of billions to find a suitable geologic repository for storage over the next few decades.[9][10]


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