- The new head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has spent more than three decades with the agency and began his career there as a junior attorney.
- Stephen Burns was sworn in as a commissioner in November, and President Obama designated Burns as chairman effective Jan. 1, 2015.
- In an interview with Platts, Burns said he intends to focus on safety, security, how the agency regulates nuclear units undergoing decommissioning, and on the size and ways the agency operates.
Burns began his career with the NRC in 1978, and in December told a Senate committee "I would not have imagined that I would be sitting here thirty-six years later as a Commissioner."
"The mission of the agency remains as vitally important today as when I started with the NRC. The protection of the public health and safety and common defense and security," Burns said. "The NRC also has a responsibility to ensure that its decisions are based on sound legal and technical footing, and are transparent to all stakeholders."
In an interview with Platts, Burns signaled a willingness to work with Congress but also hinted that cooperation may only extend so far. Responding to criticism that the agency holds back information lawmakers need for thorough oversight, Burns said "for the most part, Congress has got a lot of authority or power in terms of the information it should be able to get from the agency."
"I don't think I can envision a perfect world of no conflicts, but I think we do our best to minimize" Burns told Platts.
Before returning to the NRC, Beginning in 2012 Burns served as head of legal affairs of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.