Share This
Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2009
Contact: media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

Nuclear Plant Neighbor Survey Shows Strong Support for Current and New Power Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Eighty-four percent of Americans living near nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy, while an even greater number—90 percent―view the local power station positively, and 76 percent support construction of a new reactor near them, according to a new public opinion survey of more than 1,100 adults across the United States.

The survey contacted people residing within the 10 mile-radius of an operating nuclear power plant and excluded electric company employees.

The survey also found that 88 percent give the nearest nuclear plant a “high” safety rating, 91 percent have confidence in the company’s ability to operate the power plant safely, and 86 percent believe the company is doing a good job protecting the environment.

The telephone survey of 1,152 randomly selected plant neighbors—18 adults within 10 miles of each of the nation’s 64 nuclear power plant sites—was conducted in mid-July by Bisconti Research Inc. with Quest Global Research Group. The survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, was commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute. The survey marked the third time since 2005 that nuclear power plant neighbors have been surveyed nationally for their attitudes about nuclear energy.

This survey shows, consistent with the prior ones, that support for nuclear energy is stronger in communities near nuclear power plants than in the population at large.

“This latest survey confirms that the vast majority of the people living in communities near nuclear power plants have a high level of support for the facilities. They see the overall benefits of these plants and are comfortable with the possibility of an additional reactor at the sites,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research. “These numbers are averages across all the 64 sites and are lower in some areas and higher in others.”

In addition to the 76 percent support for new reactor construction, 90 percent of the survey respondents believe the nuclear energy facility helps the local economy, and 89 percent believe that it provides good local jobs at the plant itself and in nearby businesses providing services to the plant.

Seventy-two percent of survey respondents said they associate nuclear energy “a lot” with reliability, up from 65 percent in 2007. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed, up 10 percentage points from 2007, have heard or read about clean-air benefits of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases or controlled air pollutants during electricity production.

“Awareness of positive news about nuclear energy is very high and has increased significantly in the past two years. People see nuclear energy as part of the solution to America’s energy and environmental challenges,” Bisconti said.

The survey’s findings come with license applications for more than 25 new reactors pending before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Congress deliberating on major energy and climate change legislation.

“The familiarity, comfort and support of those living near nuclear plants is reflected in this survey, and they are enthusiastic about the possibility of new plants being added to the existing sites for the obvious economic and environmental benefits,” said Scott Peterson, NEI vice president for communications.

The overall approval of nuclear energy was significant, with 84 percent of plant neighbors favoring the use of nuclear energy—58 percent strongly in support compared to five percent strongly opposed—as a means of providing electricity in the United States. And by a margin of 90 percent to nine percent, plant neighbors have a favorable impression of the nearby nuclear plant and its operation―63 percent very favorable compared to three percent very unfavorable.

When asked about the company that operates the nearest nuclear power plant, 83 percent believe that the company “is involved in the community.”

You can see details on survey results at: http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/newplants/reports/third-biennial-nuclear-power-plant-neighbor-public-opinion-tracking-survey.