Energy | Water | Ecotrope

Fukushima: A “triumph” of nuclear engineering?

Ecotrope | March 17, 2011 8:32 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:40 p.m.

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This is a guest post by OPB reporter Rob Manning

Reed College instructor Stephen Frantz told OPB reporter Rob Manning that in spite of media reports of nuclear failure at Japan's Fukushima power plant, his students are impressed by the engineering feats accomplished in the wake of Friday's earthquake and tsunami to prevent a meltdown.

Reed College instructor Stephen Frantz told OPB reporter Rob Manning that in spite of media reports of nuclear failure at Japan's Fukushima power plant, his students are impressed by the engineering feats accomplished in the wake of Friday's earthquake and tsunami to prevent a meltdown.

Some of Oregon’s youngest nuclear scholars are questioning media reports about the failing reactor in Japan.

Reed College has a small research reactor that students operate and supervise. Some of those students say the Fukushima plant – and the engineers who run it – are doing an admirable job. The director of Reed’s research reactor, Stephen Frantz, shared that view with me when I spoke to him earlier this week.

In this first clip, Frantz talks about the view of one of his students, that the response at the plant has been a “triumph” rather than a failure of engineering.

[audio href=”http://www.supload.com/listen?s=u0QVbW” title=”“]”They’re of the opinion that this is a triumph of science and engineering over completely unanticipated events.”[/audio]

I asked Frantz “in a sense, it’d be hard to call it a triumph, wouldn’t it?”

In his response, he likened the efforts at the plant to an airplane pilot trying to land a plane without power for the landing gear.

[audio href=”http://www.supload.com/listen?s=lqociJ” title=”“]”You’re in a situation that everybody told you is never going to happen. What do you do now? The Japanese engineers seem to be working heroically to prevent a release and save the public.” [/audio]

By contrast, environmental groups like the Sierra Club view the nuclear emergency in Japan as a platform to condemn nuclear power, and call for alternative energy.

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