Dr. James O'Brien

U.S. Department of Energy

Contact Details

U.S. Department of Energy


Dr. James O’Brien has over 30 years of experience in the environment, health, safety, and security field focused primarily in nuclear safety policy, engineering, and operations. He has worked at DOE since 2001 serving in several senior management and technical positions including: Director of AU’s Office of Nuclear Safety, where he led DOE’s organization for the development of the DOE nuclear safety policies; Director of the Office of Health, Safety and Security’s (HSS) Office of Nuclear Safety and Environmental Assistance, and a senior engineer in HSS’s Office of Independent Oversight where he performed reviews of DOE’s emergency management, worker safety, and nuclear safety programs at DOE sites. Dr. O’Brian has served on several high profile FRAs, including the 2019 ACRR restart FRA.


Prior to working at DOE, Dr. O’Brien worked for nine (9) years at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). At the NRC, he was responsible for the development of nuclear safety requirements and standards related to renewing commercial nuclear power plant licenses as well as emergency preparedness programs at commercial nuclear power plants. He also supported the NRC’s review of plant-specific probabilistic risk assessments and performed inspections of emergency preparedness programs at commercial nuclear power plants and research reactors.

Dr. O’Brien started his professional career working at a commercial nuclear power plant where he served as a shift supervisor, reactor engineer, and project engineer. During his ten (10) years at the plant, Dr. O’Brien was involved in several critical activities, including the completion of startup testing of the plant and bringing the plant to initial criticality and commercial operation. He also served as a refueling floor coordinator for the first refueling of the reactor.


Dr. O’Brien holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering, a Master of Science degree in Materials Engineering, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nuclear Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer.