Joseph M. Hendrie, who was removed from the chairmanship of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident, has been asked to serve again as NRC chairman until the Reagan people get their own man in the job.
Hendrie, who has been serving as a regular member of the commission, told the troops yesterday morning at a staff meeting that the call to resume his old job came from the White House Friday night, although it has not yet been formally announced. The current chairman, John F. Ahearne, will remain on the commission for the time being.
Rumored to be the administration's top candidate for eventual appointment as NRC chairman is Thomas M. Roberts, campaign treasurer for Vice President Bush and lately of the White House personnel office. Roberts was president and chief executive officer of the Southern Boiler and Tank Works in Memphis, which produces some liners for nuclear reactor containment buildings.
Hendrie also told the meeting of his desire to speed up the licensing process so that finished nuclear plants won't have to sit idle while the bureaucracy grinds on. Specific recommendations are expected to go to Congress later this week, in light of some pot-calling-the-kettle-black congressional complaints about things moving too slowly.