Senate confirms 5-year term for NRC chair Allison Macfarlane

The U.S. Senate confirmed Allison Macfarlane to a full, five-year term as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission June 27.

Macfarlane was sworn in as chairwoman of the NRC July 9, 2012, replacing Gregory Jaczko as chair and serving the remainder of his term. She was re-nominated for a full term in March 2013.

Macfarlane was a member of the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which was convened by former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu after the Fukishima disaster and charged to examine the issues associated with nuclear waste disposal in the U.S.

She holds a doctorate in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was also a research associate. Her other academic credits include work at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

The Nuclear Energy Institute offered their congratulations to Macfarlane, adding that the NEI looks forward to working with she and her fellow commissioners on issues facing the nuclear energy sector.

“Over the past year Chairman Macfarlane has done an outstanding job of restoring collegiality within the commission and demonstrating respect for differing opinions to allow the agency to fully focus on fulfilling its safety mission. The credibility of the NRC is immensely important to us, as well as to the global nuclear energy community, given the agency’s stature worldwide,” according to a release from the NEI.

“With new reactors being built domestically, operating license extensions under review, post-Fukushima safety enhancements being implemented, and license applications for small reactors on the horizon, this is a challenging and exciting time in the U.S. nuclear energy sector. A common challenge for our facilities and the NRC is ensuring that regulatory requirements focus on those matters of the highest safety significance,” according to the NEI.

Macfarlane has also published a book on the Yucca Mountian nuclear waste repositiory. She held fellowships at Radcliffe College, MIT, and Stanford and Harvard Universities.

Macfarlane is the third woman to serve as chairman, the 33rd member and the only individual with a background in geology to serve on the NRC. A native of Connecticut, Macfarlane and her husband, an anthropologist, live in Bethesda, Maryland.

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