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Edward McGaffigan Jr., 58; longest-serving NRC member

September 03, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Edward McGaffigan Jr., the longest-serving member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, died Sunday at a hospice in Arlington, Va., after a lengthy battle with melanoma, a particularly dangerous form of skin cancer, the agency said. He was 58.

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

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 earlier this year.

McGaffigan often bluntly challenged critics of the NRC's oversight of the nuclear power industry and industry safety.

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

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 that the failures exposed by the sting operation had been fixed.

McGaffigan grew up in Boston and earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard.

He earned a master's degree in physics from Caltech and one in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Before joining the NRC, McGaffigan was legislative director for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), working on defense policy and nuclear nonproliferation issues.

He is survived by a son, Edward Francis, and daughter, Margaret Ruth, both of Arlington, Va.; his mother, a sister and a brother.

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