US nuclear neighbours not nimby

21 August 2007

Eighty-two per cent of people living close to US nuclear power plants are in favour of nuclear energy and 71% would be willing to see a new reactor near them, a new public opinion survey has found.

The telephone survey polled 1100 adults across the USA, all living within 10 miles (16 km) of a nuclear power plant but not employed by electric companies. Eighty-six per cent of respondents gave their local nuclear plant a 'high' safety rating and 87% declared their confidence that the operating company could run the plant safely.

The survey was carried out by Bisconti Research, whose president Ann Bisconti noted: "Nimby (not in my back yard) does not apply at existing plant sites because close neighbours have a positive view of nuclear energy, are familiar with the plant, and believe that the plant benefits the community."

When faced with the question: "If a new power plant were needed to supply electricity, would it be acceptable to you... to add a new nuclear reactor at the site of the nearest nuclear power plant?" 71% of all respondents said it would be acceptable. Twenty-six per cent felt it would not be acceptable and three per cent voted 'don't know'. These figures changed to 77% in favour and only 20% against in communities where steps are already underway to build new reactors.

The strong support for new reactors among residents already living near nuclear plants was welcomed by Scott Peterson, Vice President for Communications at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US nuclear industry policy organization. "This bodes well for the prospect of new plant construction, particularly for those companies considering adding new reactors at existing nuclear plant sites," he said.

The survey, which included adults living near each of the 64 nuclear power plant sites in the USA, was commissioned by the NEI, and comes at a time when US power companies are embarking on a new regulatory process for licensing new plants. Seventeen companies have announced plans to file licence applications for up to 31 reactors to be built over the next 10-15 years. Four applications for Early Site Permits (ESP) have already been submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), all to assess the suitability of existing reactor sites for possible new construction projects. The NRC received the first part of the construction and operating licence (COL) application for a new reactor at the Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland in July and anticipates up to another seven applications covering 12 units by the end of 2007.

Further information

Nuclear Energy Institute
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper

WNN: NRC: First part of COL application in