This is a guest post by OPB reporter Rob Manning

 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=”” 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=”” 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.