The Baltimore Sun


Nuclear regulator

Edward McGaffigan Jr., the longest-serving member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, died Sunday of metastatic melanoma, a form of skin cancer, at Capital Hospice in Arlington, Va.

A native of Boston and one of two Democrats on the NRC, Mr. McGaffigan was appointed to the commission, which regulates the nuclear industry, in 1996 and again in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. He was nominated for a third term by President Bush in 2005.

Mr. McGaffigan's death reduced the five-member commission to three members. One of the seats has been vacant since the departure of Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield this year.

Not known for being shy, Mr. McGaffigan often bluntly challenged his agency's critics, accusing some of fear-mongering in their criticism of the NRC's oversight of the nuclear power industry and industry safety.

Mr. McGaffigan announced in January that he would retire because of his cancer, but in late March he changed his mind as the chemotherapy he was undergoing appeared to slow the progress of the diseases.

He continued at his job into late summer. In mid-July he led the NRC's response to reports that congressional investigators had set up a bogus company and obtained NRC permits to buy small amounts of nuclear material, telling a congressional hearing the failures exposed by the sting operation had been fixed.

Before joining the NRC, Mr. McGaffigan was legislative director for New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

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