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June 30th, 2009

U.S. still ambivalent on nuclear power

Published on June 30th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
Credit: Grapo

Credit: Gralo

The dangers of Poneman-style closed-door meetings on nuclear energy policy are clear: People are still nervous about this stuff.

The latest evidence is a new poll from Sacred Heart University that shows the public is very divided on nukes, are yet to be convinced on nuclear waste dangers and link the growth of nuclear energy to the growth of nuclear weapons.

The SHU poll found a nearly even split between those suggesting nuclear energy was very or somewhat safe (46.1%) and those who said somewhat dangerous or very dangerous (44.7%).

“The two dangers that concern a majority of Americans are the problems with radioactive waste storage, a top criticism of nuclear power, and possible plant meltdowns,” says Josh Klein, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Sacred Heart University.

According to the poll, the public is convinced something must be done about global warming. SHU says 77% of all survey respondents strongly or somewhat supported the EPA’s decision to regulate carbon emissions.

For nuclear power proponents, the good news is that while 53.6% are concerned about the danger of future nuclear energy plant meltdowns, 54.2% think that nuclear power plants “will be safer in the future because of newer technologies making plants meltdown-proof.”

But a majority of Americans (58.4%), however, think that nuclear energy’s radioactive waste is a danger that humans will face for thousands of years to come.

And, in one more split decision, more than one-third expect that the number of worldwide nuclear weapons will increase if there are more nuclear power plants, and another third see no such link.

Ceramic, glass and other material scientists have made great strides in both reprocessing and containing nuclear waste. Unfortunately, few in the public arena are aware of these advances. The Ponemans of the world would be better off talking to the public about these developments rather than holding close-door meetings with the Villagers.


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