Following Japan’s Crises, American Public Is Divided on Nuclear

Three weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled four nuclear reactors in Japan, Americans are displaying only a slight shift in their opinions on nuclear power, says a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, fielded March 23-25. The U.S. public is almost equally divided on whether or not more nuclear power plants should be built on American soil, with 41% supporting the idea and 39% opposed—which represents only a slight change from three years ago, when 49% supported nuclear plants and 32% opposed them. Other poll findings include:

• 73% of respondents believe that nuclear waste disposal remains a “major problem,” while 55% think that the possible escape of radioactivity into the atmosphere is equally dangerous.

• Almost a third of all adults (29%) still consider nuclear power plants “very safe,” with another 34% saying they are “somewhat safe.”

• 46% of U.S. adults agree that “the risk of accidents and radiation exposure from nuclear power plants is too high to be acceptable.”

• More than half (55%) of Americans agree that there is a need to build nuclear power plants because they do not produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, unlike those that use oil, gas or coal.

• Additionally, 59% of those surveyed agree to this statement: “It is OK to build nuclear power plants if we build them far enough away from earthquake fault lines and areas with large populations.”

Source: Harris Interactive