Less than half of US residents support new nuclear build

22 June 2011

Almost 80% of US residents feel secure about the overall state and safety of nuclear energy and power plants, according to a recent survey from TNS. In the June poll, which followed the German chancellor’s visit to the USA, TNS asked a nationally representative sample of 2500 adults about their attitudes toward nuclear power safety and new plants.

An overwhelming 90% of respondents said that the recent events following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan had little to no effect on their concerns over US nuclear energy safety. However, support for building new facilities was only moderate (45% of respondents supported building new facilities), with only 14% strongly opposed future construction.

The results of the poll are similar to one conducted between 24 and 27th March, about two weeks after the Fukushima nuclear accident, according to TNS.

In the March poll, 88% of respondents said that recent events in Japan either have had no effect or only slightly increased their concerns (44% each) about US nuclear energy safety.

The differing opinions between the genders were quite marked in the March poll. Women proved to be much less secure in their feelings about nuclear power than men. Only 14% of women said that they feel very safe personally in relation to US power plants compared with 35% of men. Furthermore over one-half (53%) of women admitted to increased concern about nuclear power safety (vs. 35% of men).

Women were also significantly less enthusiastic about building new plants in the near term. Less than 7% strongly favored new construction, while nearly one half (48%) express either moderate (31%) or strong (17%) opposition. Conversely, nearly two-thirds of men favor building new power plants (35% strongly favor, 30% somewhat favor).

"It appears the combination of the international community planning to scale back nuclear power and continued uncertainty about the future effects of the Japan disaster has had virtually no influence on US attitudes toward nuclear power," said Jim Gill, Senior Vice President at TNS.

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