Poll: Majority say US nuke plants are safe, divisions on new reactors remain

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults released Monday was conducted March 25 to 27.

The poll finds that the public is split on whether new reactors should be constructed in the United States. Several power companies including utility giant Southern Company are planning to build what would be the first new U.S. reactors in decades.

Gallup, in asking about views on increasing the number of U.S. plants, found that 46 percent called nuclear power necessary and 48 percent called the risks too high. Here’s how they phrased the question:

“Which comes closer to your view about increasing the number of nuclear power plants in the country – nuclear power is necessary to help solve the country’s current energy problems, or the dangers of nuclear power are too great, even if it would help solve the country’s current energy problems?”

Gallup notes that views on the prospect of new plants have been stable for a decade.

“Despite all that has changed over the last 10 years, responses to this question did not change materially between its prior asking in May 2001 and the current poll, though it may be possible that attitudes changed between these intervals in unknown ways. Still, this finding suggests there has been no substantial diminution in support for nuclear power plant construction over this past decade — despite the current, and highly visible, nuclear plant problems in Japan,” they state.