A shocking exposé from the most powerful insider in nuclear regulation about how the nuclear energy industry endangers our lives—and why Congress does nothing to stop it.
Gregory Jaczko had never heard of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when he arrived in Washington like a modern-day Mr. Smith. But, thanks to the determination of a powerful senator, he would soon find himself at the agency’s helm. A Birkenstocks-wearing physics PhD, Jaczko was unlike any chairman the agency had ever seen: he was driven by a passion for technology and a concern for public safety, with no ties to the industry and no agenda other than to ensure that his agency made the world a safer place.
And so Jaczko witnessed what outsiders like him were never meant to see—an agency overpowered by the industry it was meant to regulate and a political system determined to keep it that way. After an emergency trip to Japan to help oversee the frantic response to the horrifying nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011, and witnessing the American nuclear industry’s refusal to make the changes he considered necessary to prevent an equally catastrophic event from occurring here, Jaczko started saying aloud what no one else had dared.
Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator is a wake-up call to the dangers of lobbying, the importance of governmental regulation, and the failures of congressional oversight. But it is also a classic tale of an idealist on a mission whose misadventures in Washington are astounding, absurd, and sometimes even funny—and Jaczko tells the story with humor, self-deprecation, and, yes, occasional bursts of outrage. Above all, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator is a tale of confronting the truth about one of the most pressing public safety and environmental issues of our time: nuclear power will never be safe.
Dr. Gregory Jaczko served as Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2009–2012, and as a commissioner from 2005–2009. As Chairman, he played a lead role in the American government’s response to the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. Jaczko is now an adjunct professor at Princeton University and Georgetown University, and an entrepreneur with a clean energy development company. He is the author of Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator.
“[A] highly intriguing, intellectually stimulating and political powder keg of a book.”
– Society of Environmental Journalists
“Gregory Jaczko provides an inside account of the inescapable tension at the heart of nuclear power, its mixing of vast potential and vast peril. Through his front-row seat to the Fukushima disaster, Jackzo demonstrates how the dangers of nuclear power has outstripped our imagination. This is Unsafe at Any Speed for the world of nuclear power.”
– Garrett M. Graff, author of Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself - While the Rest of Us Die
“I love Jaczko’s book... It’s a passionate and personal account of what happens to honest bureaucrats trying to use science and the government in the public interest. It’s also a riveting true story, well-written, insightful, very timely, and extremely important.”
“Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is going on the offensive to explain why nuclear energy is nowhere near a perfect solution to the climate crisis.... [Jaczko makes] a compelling argument, and anyone who may be warming to nuclear energy in the fight to reverse climate change should examine it.”
– Las Vegas Sun
“Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator is one part engrossing memoir and another part seething diatribe, depicting a government agency that routinely caves to industry pressure.... Jaczko’s account will become standard reading as an antinuclear book.”
– Science Magazine
“The infuriating inside story of how a corrupt, outmoded, and inefficient nuclear industry maintains its market position against safer, more efficient forms of renewable energy by hoodwinking and corrupting Congress and co-opting the regulators. Jaczko’s book shows us for the first time how the industry is transforming the officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Agency into sock puppets and shills for the hideously dangerous boondoggle they are paid to regulate. This is an urgent wake-up call and a must-read.”
– Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president, Waterkeeper Alliance
“Jaczko argues persuasively that he was fighting a losing battle with industry lobbyists, pro-nuclear congressional members, and even his commission colleagues. This is a well-written memoir from an insider with a powerful message: nuclear power can never be made completely safe, and defining safety is as political as it is scientific. Jaczko's forthright 'confessions' will help raise awareness on this crucial issue.”
“A very important read for all interested in nuclear safety.”
“Jaczko’s book provides insights into the politics behind… skewed analyses and suggests that a reform-minded Congress might usefully look into the NRC’s regulatory process.”