U.S. NRC Blog

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New Chairman Sworn In Today

Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane (right) is administered the oath of office by NRC Chief Human Capitol Officer Miriam Cohen (left) with chief of staff designee Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner holding the Bible.

Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane early Monday afternoon became the 15th chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She took the oath of office from NRC Chief Human Capital Officer Miriam Cohen in a small ceremony on the 18th floor of the NRC headquarters building.

She became the 33rd individual to serve on the commission since its creation in 1975, and only the third woman to hold the top job at the agency, which regulates the civilian use of nuclear materials. The way for her swearing-in was cleared the morning of July 9 when the White House alerted the Secretary of the Commission that Macfarlane’s appointment paperwork had been signed by the President. She is serving a term that ends June 30, 2013.

After the very brief event – it took no more than about two minutes – she posed for a picture with her commission colleagues who have their offices on that floor. (Her office is on the 17th.)

While there were no formal remarks, she noted that she is looking forward to working collegially with her fellow commissioners and the dedicated staff of the NRC to address the multiple issues facing the Commission.

Macfarlane most recently was an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. She holds a doctorate in geology, is an expert on nuclear waste, and from 2010 to 2012 was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future created by the Obama Administration.

And by the way, if anyone wants to write her or write about her, the f in Macfarlane is not capitalized.

Eliot Brenner
Director, Office of Public Affairs

2 responses to “New Chairman Sworn In Today

  1. stephan brniak July 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I hope that Dr. Macfarlane will bring much needed influence to increase conservatism in NRC oversight of the nuclear industry to ensure public health and safety. I am an Engineer with an advanced degree in engineering that have worked in different technical and management positions at different utilities in the nuclear industry for the past 33 years. Since the early 2000s the nuclear industry commitment to nuclear safety has been eroding while the NRC has been seen as too cozy with the nuclear industry. Engineering, Operations, and Maintenance organizations within the nuclear industry are more and more trained and required to focus on the unwritten rule of justifying maintaining power production with little regard to plant nuclear safety. The fate of the nuclear industry cannot be totally left to corporate executives as the industry is only one major disaster away from being shut down for good. The NRC has the responsibility of counter balancing the industry eroded safety commitment and that can only be achieved by conservative approach to oversight. Dr. Macfarlane will have her hands full and will have enormous challenges to bring about change. I wish her the best and God Bess!

  2. Dean Chaney, CHP July 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Ms. Macfarlane does not appear to bring much to the NRC table in the way of knowledge to be applied to the safe operation commercial nuclear power facilities or their licensing. Her, being an expert on nuclear waste has not done anything for the Country involving the opening of disposal sites for either low or high level waste.

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