In the past few days, the member bloggers of The Energy Collective have engaged in an active discussion about the unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. We have published a number of reports and analyses on Fukushima, written by analysts on all sides of the nuclear energy debate.

One analysis in particular, by MIT economist Joseph Oehmen, has become the most heavily trafficked post in the history of The Energy Collective. Because Dr. Oehmen’s article has attracted a great deal of critical scrutiny, both on our site and on other sites, we are taking this opportunity to clear up a few popular misconceptions about the post and about The Energy Collective.

Dr. Oehmen is an economist and mechanical engineer who holds a research position at MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative. Last weekend Dr. Oehmen sent a lengthy email to relatives in Japan, providing technical background on the Fukushima crisis and arguing, based on information available to him at the time, that the reactor failures did not represent a significant risk to human health.

The email was then reproduced on the blog of Dr. Barry Brook, a climate scientist at Adelaide University in Australia who is also a featured blogger on The Energy Collective. We republished the post because it provided a great deal of useful background on nuclear plant construction, much of which has been missing from mainstream media coverage of the disaster. It’s important to note, however, that publishing Dr. Oehmen’s argument did not mean that we endorsed or refuted his relatively optimistic take on the Fukushima disaster.

Over the past few days, a great deal more information has emerged about the situation at Fukushima, requiring Dr. Oehmen’s factual account to be revised in light of current events. This work was undertaken by members of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE). We have posted the edited version on The Energy Collective. You can also read it on the NSE site.

The Energy Collective is an independent, moderated community of professionals focused on the complex challenges of meeting the world's energy needs sustainably. Our members are our content contributors, and include leading scientists, activists, policy makers, executives and entrepreneurs. We receive sponsorship support from Siemens Energy, but Siemens has no influence over our editorial process.  

Our members' perspectives are as diverse as their backgrounds, but all share a commitment to respectful discourse and an appetite for innovation. We know that consensus on the way forward can only be achieved when stakeholders from all sides of the energy and climate debate have a seat at the table. This is especially true today as the global energy community debates the future of nuclear power in light of the Fukushima tragedy.