July 30, 2018

FH+H Partner Quoted in Article “Trump Administration Neuters Nuclear Safety Board”

FH+H Partner Dave Jonas was quoted in a recent Santa Fe New Mexican and ProPublica article titled “Trump administration neuters nuclear safety board,” which discusses a new order from the Department of Energy that outlines limits on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The board’s current ability to conduct oversight of nuclear facilities is not very regulated, so the new order outlines limits including “preventing the board from accessing sensitive information, imposing additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandating that Department of Energy (DOE) officials speak ‘with one voice’ when communicating with the board,” according to the article.

Some individuals believe the new regulations put workers and the public in danger, including Robert Alvarez, who previously served as Senior Policy Advisor for the Secretary of Energy.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for something to blow up or catch fire in order to pay attention to a safety problem,” Mr. Alvarez says in the article.

Others, however, would prefer the board to be disbanded altogether. Sean Sullivan, who is a former chairman of the board, said it is a “relic of the Cold War and its oversight was redundant.”

Mr. Jonas, the only person ever to have served as General Counsel for both the National Nuclear Security Administration and the safety board, said there have been disagreements between the board and the DOE in the past, but the new order outlines such limitations that he expects a legal battle to break out.

“It’s a mess,” Mr. Jonas says in the article. “The defense board is going to end up getting a little less information” because of the increased regulation based on the new DOE order.

Read the full article here.

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