WASHINGTON—Eighty-three percent of Americans living in close proximity to nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy, and 76 percent are willing to see a new reactor built near them, according to a new public opinion survey of more than 1,100 adults across the United States.
The first-of-its-kind survey that questioned only residents within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant also found that 85 percent give the nearest nuclear power plant a “high” safety rating, and that 88 percent are confident that the company operating the power plant can do so safely. Electric company employees were excluded from the survey.
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 August by Bisconti Research Inc. with Quest Global Research Group. The survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, was commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The survey marked the first time that nuclear power plant neighbors have been surveyed nationally for their attitudes about nuclear energy.
“The survey confirms what some utilities have seen in their own public opinion surveys and interactions in the community – that is, that most nuclear power plant neighbors support their local plant,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research. “NIMBY (not in my back yard) does not apply at existing plant sites because close neighbors have a positive view of nuclear energy, are familiar with the plant, and believe that the plant benefits the community.”
Seventy-six percent of residents near nuclear plants said it would be acceptable to add a new reactor at the site of the nearest nuclear power plant, if a new power plant were needed to supply electricity. Twenty-two percent of respondents said it would not be acceptable, and two percent said they don’t know.
The survey’s findings come at a time when several energy companies, spurred in part by enactment in August of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, are taking steps to test the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new licensing processes for new plants.
The law includes limited incentives for new nuclear power plant construction and measures to protect companies against delay in the federal government’s review of new reactor licenses.
“It’s obvious that people living near nuclear plants have a high degree of familiarity and comfort with nuclear energy and would welcome the economic and environmental benefits of new nuclear plants,” said Scott Peterson, NEI vice president for communications. “The poll’s results show that support for new nuclear plants is strong among those residents who live near nuclear plants. This bodes well for the prospect of new plant construction, particularly for those companies considering adding new reactors at existing nuclear plant sites.”
By a margin of 83 percent to 16 percent, plant neighbors said they favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States. And by a margin of 87 percent to 10 percent, they said they have a favorable impression of the nearby nuclear power plant and the way it has operated recently. Seventy-five percent said they believe that the majority of people in their community have a favorable impression of their local nuclear power plant.
When asked about the company that operates the nearest nuclear power plant, 83 percent agreed that, “this company is involved in the community as a good citizen,” and 84 percent agreed that, “this company is doing a good job of protecting the environment.”
Eighty-one percent of plant neighbors said they are “very well informed” or “somewhat well informed” about the nearest nuclear power plant. Seventy-one percent have lived in the area for more than 10 years; 86 percent have lived there for at least five years.
For more details, see the complete survey report .
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.