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Nuclear safety: NRC chairman is a tyrant, colleagues tell Congress

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Some female staffers, he added, had borne the brunt of occasional "raging verbal assault." As a result, staffers “loyal to the normal functioning of the agency” had to form an “underground network” behind his back to keep other commissioners informed, Mr. Magwood added.

The NRC's "historic values have been compromised," said Commissioner William Ostendorff. Left uncorrected, "this trend damages the ability of the NRC staff and the commission to carry out its nuclear safety mission."

But despite calls for his resignation from some Republicans, Jazcko refused to acknowledge that he had made any mistakes – other than needing to communicate better – since he was appointed by President Obama in 2009.

"I have no plans to resign because I continue to believe that under my leadership the agency has performed very well,” he said in a soft voice. “We have commit ourselves to safety – and I believe my record shows that."

Democrats offered support for Jaczko, a former member of staff for Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. They suggested that, in the past, the NRC had been too docile when confronted with safety issues and that changing the agency's culture might be a good thing.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the "current chairman has exhibited one of the strongest records of safety of any chairman."

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