Nuclear Energy Insight
Fall 2011—An overwhelming majority of residents within 10 miles of America’s nuclear energy facilities favor the use of nuclear energy and believe their local facility is safe.
Eighty percent of residents near the nation’s 64 commercial reactor sites said they favor the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity, according to a survey by Bisconti Research Inc. and Quest Global Research Group. Even more—87 percent—believe the plants help the local economy, provide good jobs for local residents and generate revenue for local businesses.
In the national telephone survey, 83 percent of respondents gave U.S. reactors a high safety rating—scores of five to seven on a seven-point scale.
The nationwide survey polled the attitudes of adults who live within 10 miles of U.S. nuclear energy facilities and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Bisconti Research has surveyed the attitudes of residents near U.S. nuclear energy facilities every two years since 2005. The national sample includes 1,152 full-time residents, 18 of them near each of the 64 nuclear facility sites. It excludes households with anyone who works for a company that operates a nuclear energy facility. Respondents were evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research, said that part of the reason for the high level of support is that the facilities have proven to be good neighbors.
“The plants help the local economy, but they do a lot more than that,” she said. “The companies put a lot of effort into outreach, into training and employing local people. People have told me that they have confidence in the plant because their next-door neighbor works there or their son plays on a baseball team with the son of someone who works there.”
Companies that operate nuclear energy facilities are also excellent environmental stewards in their communities. “The companies put a lot of effort into environmental protection programs,” Bisconti said. “We know that people in at least some of these communities like to fish and picnic near the plant.”
Though the poll did not measure attitudes about the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, she said
that two questions addressed aspects of that accident.
The poll asked whether respondents agreed with the following statement: “I am confident that the company has prepared the plant to withstand the most severe natural events that may occur in this region.” Seventy-nine percent agreed;15 percent disagreed.
Respondents also were asked if they approved of a new reactor being built at the local site. Two-thirds said it would be acceptable, with 28 percent disagreeing. Only about 7 percent of those opposed
to new construction cited the Fukushima Daiichi accident as a reason.
Bisconti said that support among nuclear energy facility neighbors has proved to be “wide and deep.”
“It was clear from our surveys,” she said, “that this deep plant neighbor support is grounded in safe plant performance, confidence in the company that manages the plant, and the company’s involvement in the community, jobs and economic benefits—and simply being better informed.”
See more information from this survey at http://tinyurl.com/6y75drg.
—Read more articles in Nuclear Energy Insight and Insight Web Extra.