One of the commissioners upset with the behavior of Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), served as a consultant for the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to the Huffington Post.
The five-member NRC regulates the 104 nuclear power reactors in the United States.
Democratic Commissioners William Magwood and George Apostolakis and Republicans Kristine Svinicki and William Ostendorff wrote a formal complaint to the White House on Friday, claiming that Jaczko’s “behavior and management practices have become increasingly problematic and erratic.”
But documents released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) suggest the conflict between the commissioners and the chairman are about more than just management. According to Markey, the four commissioners have been trying to delay and weaken nuclear reactor safety regulations in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
The Japanese plant was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March and thousands remain evacuated from a large area around the facility.
Commissioner Magwood, who would be the leading candidate to take Jaczko position, has ties to Japan's nuclear industry. TEPCO, the company that owns the Fukushima plant, was a client of the energy consulting firm he founded, Advanced Energy Strategies. The company provided "strategic advice to domestic and international organizations," according to his official NRC bio.
The watchdog group Project On Government Oversight opposed his nomination to the NRC in 2010, claiming that he was too close to the nuclear industry to properly regulate it.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has scheduled a Wednesday hearing on NRC leadership, and all five members are expected to testify.