The story of the Birkenstocks-wearing physics Ph.D. and his controversial tenure as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he says he was pushed out after arguing for reforms of the nuclear-power industry after the disaster at Fukushima in Japan.
Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator is one part engrossing memoir and another part seething diatribe, depicting a government agency that routinely caves to industry pressure. The book cannot help but also feel like a rationalization of Jaczko’s own actions during his conflict-ridden tenure as chairman, a position offered to him in 2009 by President Barack Obama ... Confessions comes across as a story of one man and his loyal staff against a whole industry and its political toadies. Jaczko portrays himself as a naïve scientist, pushing hard for progressive reforms amid a corrupt bureaucracy ... The problem that plagued the old Atomic Energy Commission—that the promoters and regulators were too cozy with each other—is clearly alive and well. Jaczko describes the relationship as a corrupt, toxic environment.' It may be a hard warning to hear, but it comes from one who had a fuller view of the nuclear regulatory landscape than most.
Do we need nuclear to deal with climate change, or can we rely solely on renewables? Are safety fears warranted or overblown? ... anyone seeking answers to those questions won’t find them in Jaczko’s new book, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator. Instead of exploring whether we need nuclear energy and whether it is safe, Jaczko focuses on his rocky tenure, which ultimately led to his resignation [from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)] ... Jaczko writes that he was 'run out of town' because he was the NRC’s 'sole advocate' for vital safety reforms, but the story is more complicated than that ... the book’s theme: He was a victim.
Despite his chairmanship, Jaczko argues persuasively that he was fighting a losing battle with industry lobbyists, pro-nuclear congressional members, and even his commission colleagues. This is a well-written memoir from an insider with a powerful message: nuclear power can never be made completely safe, and defining safety is as political as it is scientific. Jaczko’s forthright 'confessions' will help raise awareness on this crucial issue.