Dr. Nils Diaz is the former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Dr. Diaz was designated Chairman of the NRC by President Bush on April 1, 2003 and he served as such until his retirement from government service on June 30, 2006. As Chairman of the NRC, Dr. Diaz served as the principal executive officer of and the official spokesman for the NRC, and had ultimate authority for all NRC functions pertaining to an emergency involving an NRC license; he was directly responsible for all high level interactions with the U.S. Executive Branch and the Congress, as well as international relationships and the policy development under the NRC charter.
Dr. Diaz was a Commissioner with the NRC from August 1996 until he assumed the chairmanship of the Commission. During his ten year tenure with the NRC, he championed regulatory reforms to streamline licensing and regulatory processes, to improve the focus on matters important to safety, to increase risk-informed and performance-based regulation throughout the regulatory structure, and to enhance management’s functions, accountability, and communications with the Congress, the public and stakeholders.
As Chairman, he led the review and improvement of security and emergency response of nuclear facilities and materials, in a manner commensurate with the new threat environment facing the nation. Dr. Diaz restructured the organization of the NRC to more effectively conduct the agency’s licensing and oversight operations, with a strong emphasis in the areas of new reactor licensing and fuel cycle and waste disposal.
Prior to his appointment to the NRC, Dr. Diaz was the Director (1985-1996) of a national consortium for advanced nuclear power and propulsion (INSPI) for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Department of Defense, and Professor of Nuclear Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida. As Director of INSPI, he exercised prime contractor management responsibilities for a diverse group of industries (including Aerojet, Pratt & Whitney, Hughes Electronics, and SRI), national laboratories (including LANL, SNL, and LLNL) and seven universities, under contracts with the Air Force, DNA, NASA, and DOE.
From 1969 to 1996, Dr. Diaz held positions as Professor at the University of Florida and as Dean for Research at CSULB, consulted on nuclear energy and energetics to private industry, the U.S. Government and other Governments. He also co-owned and managed six small corporations serving the nuclear industry and government, and conducting high technology development. He spent six years at nuclear utilities and corporations, often troubleshooting major performance issues using novel approaches to improving organizational effectiveness and accountability. He lived in Europe in 1981-1982, while serving as the Principal Advisor to Spain’s Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, and consulting for other entities. From 1971 to 1984, at the University of Florida, he managed the reactor, the accelerator facilities, the fuels and SNMs, as well as several multi-disciplinary programs.
Dr. Diaz is internationally recognized for his broad expertise and contributions to nuclear sciences, reactor systems and fuels, to the regulation of nuclear facilities and radioactive materials, and to nuclear policy analysis and development. He has worked extensively in the international arena, including interacting and contributing to major policy and decision-making efforts. He has published extensively, and is recognized worldwide for his statesmanship on nuclear affairs.
Dr. Diaz holds a Ph.D. and MS in nuclear engineering sciences from the University of Florida, and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Villanova, Havana. He was licensed as a senior reactor operator by the NRC and has formal training and practice in health physics, radiological sciences and nuclear medicine. He is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Diaz and his family live in Tampa, Florida.