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US Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Stephen Burns to leave commission June 30

Washington β€” US Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Stephen Burns, a former chairman of the regulator, will leave the commission June 30 when his term expires, he told employees Monday.

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Burns, an independent, became a commissioner in November 2014 and served as the chairman from January 2015 to January 2017, when President Donald Trump replaced him with current Chairman Kristine Svinicki, a Republican.

He said during the annual NRC all-employee meeting he would be leaving the commission when his term is complete.

The departure of Burns will leave three Republican commissioners and one Democrat.

Members of the five-member commission are nominated by the president and confirmed by the US Senate. The NRC can have no more than three commissioners who are members of the president's party.

Burns joined NRC in 1978 as an attorney and worked his way up to the post of general counsel, which he held from 2009 to 2012.

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At that time, he joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris as head of legal affairs before returning to become an NRC commissioner about two years later.

Last week, Burns dissented from a majority vote by commissioners to change the agency's safety requirements established in the wake of the Fukushima I nuclear plant accident in Japan in 2011, a move critics and Commissioner Jeff Baran said would "gut" post-Fukushima safety requirements.

Svinicki wrote in a statement made public Friday that the Republican majority on the commission determined no additional requirements resulted in cost-justified safety improvements.

-- William Freebairn, william.freebairn@spglobal.com

-- Steven Dolley, steven.dolley@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com