NRC chief Gregory Jaczko resigning

Monday - 5/21/2012, 1:01pm EDT

Gregory Jaczko, the embattled chief of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is stepping down, he said in a statement on Monday. Jaczko has been heavily criticized for more than a year for his management style.

"After an incredibly productive three years as chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum," Jaczko said.

His resignation will be effective as soon as a successor is confirmed.

This comes after fellow NRC commissioners publicly described Jaczko as acting as a bully. Jaczko denied any wrongdoing but suggested that the commissioners talk to a third party to improve communications.

Jaczko led the NRC as its chief spokesman while the agency responded last year to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Huffington Post reports that the other four members of the commission felt he overreacted to" Fukushima by needlessly adding costly new safety measures.

Jaczko came also under fire from the same officials due to his opposition to a proposed nuclear waste depository in Nevada.

NRC chief Gregory Jaczko testifies before Congress about his management style in December. He is surrounded by the four commissioners who opposed him. (Photo courtesy House Oversight Committee)

Congressman: This ends an 'ugly chapter' in NRC

House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), released a statement supporting the resignation.

"The resignation of [Jaczko] will close an ugly chapter and allow the [NRC] to focus on its mission," Issa said. "This was never about nuclear safety, but rather poor leadership that created an abusive and hostile work environment."

Issa also noted that Jaczko has not responded to several recent requests from the oversight committee for further clarification on his testimony before Congress.

Attacked on all sides

In December, Jaczko was called to testify before the oversight committee after four NRC commissioners, two democrats and two republicans, signed a letter saying his brusque style had created a "chilled worked environment" and could threaten the agency's mission.

Jaczko acknowledged being "passionate" about safety and having heated conversations with his colleagues. But he denied being a bully and agreed to meet with a "trusted third party" to work through the issues.

During the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Jaczko should resign, which, until today, he said he would not do.