The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stepping down following a rocky tenure in which he drew criticism from the nuclear industry.
Gregory Jaczko, who has led the five-member panel for three years, said he would resign ahead of the June 2013 expiration of his term.
“After an incredibly productive three years as chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum,” Mr Jaczko said in a statement on Monday.
Mr Jaczko was originally appointed to the NRC in 2005 by George W. Bush with the backing of Harry Reid, the Democratic senator who is now majority leader. He became chairman in 2009.
He led efforts to review the safety of the US’s 104 nuclear reactors following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year that led to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
But he also clashed with the nuclear industry and other NRC commissioners over the proposed use of Yucca Mountain in Nevada to store nuclear waste, a plan which the Obama administration terminated last year. Last year a report from the NRC’s inspector general found that Mr Jaczko withheld information from his fellow commissioners about the decision to scrap the project.
His management style and accusations that he verbally abused co-workers drew criticism, leading to congressional hearings last year that showcased the clashes between Mr Jaczko and his fellow commissioners. Another report on Mr Jaczko from the agency’s internal watchdog is due to be released soon.
Mr Jaczko will remain in his position until a successor is named.