Biden names Democrat Christopher Hanson as chair of nuclear regulator

Christopher Hanson has been a Democratic commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since June 2020. PHOTO: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Joe Biden designated Mr Christopher Hanson, currently a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), as the agency's new chairman, effective immediately.

Mr Hanson is a former staff member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and adviser in the Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy.

He's been a Democratic commissioner of the NRC since June 2020, filling the remainder of a term ending in June 2024. The agency formulates policies and develops regulations governing nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety.

He succeeds Ms Kristine Svinicki, the longest-serving member in the agency's over-four-decade history, who departed Jan 20 after serving as chair since 2017.

"I am honoured to have been selected by President Biden to serve as the next NRC Chairman and to lead the talented women and men who oversee the licensing and regulation of our nation's civilian use of radioactive materials," Mr Hanson said in a statement.

"I remain committed to ensuring that we continue to work collaboratively under our authorities established by Congress to assure the public adequate protection of health and safety in carrying out our regulatory responsibilities."

The NRC, established as an independent agency by Congress in 1974 to protect public health and safety related to the nuclear energy industry, typically has five commissioners serving five-year terms.

Ms Svinicki's depature leaves one vacancy.

Commissioners are confirmed by the US Senate, but the president has discretion to appoint any commissioner as chair without further congressional involvement.

Mr Hanson has overseen nuclear and environmental programmes in roles across various legislative and executive branch offices and also worked as a consultant at McLean, Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton.

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