Allison Macfarlane

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Allison M. Macfarlane
Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane.jpg
Chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
In office
July 9, 2012 – December 31, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Gregory Jaczko
Succeeded by Stephen G. Burns
Personal details
Born circa 1964
Alma mater University of Rochester
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Allison M. Macfarlane directs the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University, where she is Professor of Public Policy and International Affairs. She was the chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from July 9, 2012, to December 31, 2014. She replaced Gregory Jaczko who was forced to step down before the end of his term by his fellow commissioners. Macfarlane was reconfirmed for a full five-year term by the United States Senate on July 1, 2013.[1] Prior to taking the top position at the NRC, Dr. Macfarlane was an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University.[2]

As Chairman of the NRC, Dr. Macfarlane prioritized the geological and operational lessons learned from the North Anna and Fukushima, as well as improving the NRC's communication with public stakeholders and paying more attention to the back end of the fuel cycle in an era where more U.S. nuclear power plants were being decommissioned than built.[3] She also pushed to make the NRC a more family-friendly workplace. Given that she had raised questions a decade earlier about the suitability of the Yucca Mountain site for long-term geologic disposal of high-level nuclear waste, supporters of Yucca Mountain expected her to stall NRC licensing of Yucca Mountain, but she complied with a court order that ruled her predecessor's actions illegal and directed the NRC to continue its licensing review until it had spent down the funds made available for this purpose by Congress.

Education and career[edit]

Macfarlane was educated at the University of Rochester, where she earned B.Sc. in Geological Sciences in 1987, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Ph.D. in Geology in 1992. Before moving to George Mason University, she held fellowships at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Stanford University, and MIT. She was also assistant professor of earth science and international affairs at Georgia Tech from 2003-4. She is married to Hugh Gusterson, a professor of anthropology and author of works on nuclear culture, with whom she has two children.[4]

MacFarlane was a member of the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future,[5] which was charged by the Secretary of Energy to examine the issues associated with nuclear waste disposal in the United States.

Views[edit]

In her 2006 book Uncertainty Underground Macfarlane critiqued plans to store spent nuclear fuel in a mountain near Las Vegas called Yucca Mountain.[6] She said the seismic and volcanic activity as well as oxidizing in the environment would make the nuclear waste unstable. MacFarlane has supported storing nuclear waste at reactor sites in dry casks and the allocation of billions to find a suitable geologic repository for storage over the next few decades.[7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane". NRC. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Allison Macfarlane Confirmed by U.S. Senate to Lead Nuclear Regulatory Commission". GMU. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  3. ^ NRC's New Chairman Defines Nuclear Goals, "National Press Club." C-Span.org. Retrieved 14 August 2012
  4. ^ "Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Who Is Allison Macfarlane?". AllGov. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane" (PDF). U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Public Affairs. 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Wald, Matthew (June 10, 2013). "N.R.C. Nomination Shines Spotlight on Waste-Disposal". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ Talbot, David (June 23, 2009). "Life after Yucca Mountain". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  8. ^ Mufson, Steven (May 24, 2012). "Obama nominates George Mason professor Allison M. Macfarlane as NRC chairwoman". Washington Post. 

External links[edit]