Poll: Shifts in U.S. concerns over nuclear power
March 17th, 2011
10:15 AM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Shifts in U.S. concerns over nuclear power

(CNN) - As the crisis surrounding nuclear plants devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues, a new poll released Thursday suggests Americans are increasingly wary of nuclear power and the threat of a nuclear disaster.

According to the USA Today/Gallup poll, 70 percent of respondents said the events in Japan caused greater concern about the threat of a nuclear disaster occurring in the United States. 39 percent of those surveyed said they are "a lot more concerned."

The poll also found that support for the use of nuclear power in the United States has decreased; 44 percent of those in favor and 47 percent opposed to "the construction of nuclear power plants in the United States."

That number marks a shift from a poll taken earlier this month, prior the earthquake in Japan, in which 57 percent of Americans said they strongly or somewhat favor using nuclear energy to provide electricity.

The USA Today/Gallup Poll was conducted March 11-13, with 1,004 American adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points

On Friday, March 11, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck Japan roughly 230 miles northeast of Tokyo. Following the quake– the largest ever to hit the country– a massive tsunami slammed into the coastline, destroying homes, boats and roads.

The death toll has risen to over 5,000, according to authorities. The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled by the quake and ensuing tsunami, and a nuclear emergency was declared. Officials reported that the earthquake and tsunami cut off the plant's electrical power and that backup generators had been disabled by the tsunami, sparking fears of a widespread release of radioactive materials.

Crisis in Japan: How you can help

For more on the concerns surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, click here

For more on rescue efforts, click here

Filed under: Nuclear power • Polls
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. LA, LA, LA

    Find a safety way to get rid of nuclear waste and then we can talk.

    March 17, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    I fall into the 39% of those alot more concerned. Until we see the outcome of what happens in Japan, we should be very cautious and wary of building any new nuke plants. Nuclear energy is not a new form of energy. We need to focus solely on energy that is non hazardous to the environment. Digging for oil is dangerous. Mining for coal is dangerous. Nuclear power is dangerous. I don't see the danger in solar and wind power.

    March 17, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "44 percent of those in favor and 47 percent opposed to "the construction of nuclear power plants in the United States."

    And, when all the dust settles, that number will once again go back up to a majority supporting nuclear power plants. Wonder if those being polled are aware of the radiation levels in the food they already eat, the water they already drink, and the air they already breathe here in America? Funny thing about radiation . . . the wind takes it where it will . . . contaminating the land, contaminating the oceans, and contaminating the air . . . as it makes it's travels around the world. Been happening for well over 60 years now. Even in America.

    March 17, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. Dean

    Coal or hydroelctric plants can be turned off in times of emergency. Nuclear plants can't be turned off as witnessed by Japan. Coal is clean now while nuclear waste polutes the earth for thousands of years. Those interested in global warming should be more interested in the global poluting nuclear waste does.

    March 17, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Bill

    Of course people are concerned. Why wouldn't they be?

    March 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. notfooledbydistractions

    The nuclear waste is an issue too – but most concerning to me is regulation. We've watched lobbyist beholden politicians strip away essential regulations to prevent disasters, and I have no doubt they'd have their dirty hands in the nuclear regulation – or lack of it. I don't trust the industry or the politicians to ensure the publics safety. Just look at the mining industry – workplace safety and environmental safety isn't strong enough or isn't enforced. Nope, I don't trust our politicians to regulate the nuclear industry.

    March 17, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. High Way

    It takes a massive natural disaster followed by a catastrophic event, like a never seen before nuclear disaster in Japan to make people realize the real truth, that nuclear energy is not clean energy and never will be. You got to give credit to the powerful nuclear lobbyist in the USA to have deep pockets to promote dubious commercials or infomercials in making believe the masses that nuclear is clean, year round.

    March 17, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. DIANA

    And what did Republican's do after this disaster? – They held a emergency meeting, not to figure out how to handle this but to defund NPR. Where are the jobs?!

    March 17, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    After watching Fox and the republicans in congress, they all seem to be for cutting back on nuclear regulations and safety measures, and going forward with more reactors.

    March 17, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. jules sand-perkins

    Sometimes you have to take risks.
    I'm sure that the Japanese thought a 9.0 earthquake was very unlikely.
    A 9.0 earthquake, or one of greater magnitude, in the USA is very unlikely. Still, it is not impossible.
    I travel in airplanes.
    It's very unlikely that one will crash.

    March 17, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Howdr

    Nuclear energy is "Clean" is a lie, there is radioactive waste.
    Solar, wind and Water generated power is clean.I had to hear "the weather" affects this, but its another Lie, we have deserts and coastline where there is plenty of sun and plenty of wind. Wake Up and stop rationalizing!

    March 17, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. Wesley

    I wonder if they did a poll on the continued use of coal power and fossil fuels along with their subsequent health, safety, economic and environmental damage that goes on decade after decade we would get the same opposition? Modern Nuclear power along with alternative forms of energy would provide the US with clean energy. Taking one type out of the equation will just force us to rely continually on the old dirty energy we've used for generations.

    March 17, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    According to Glenn Beck, God just gave Japan what they had coming. Limbagger and Beck were laughing about the devastation. How any could pay these morons $50 million and $32 million respectively, or that their programs even get sponsors boggles the mind.

    March 17, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |