Poll: Most Americans no more fearful of nuclear power

CBS/iStockphoto

CBS/iStockphoto

In spite of evidence that anti-radiation drugs are flying off shelves, and a dramatically churned-up debate over the safety of nuclear energy, a CBS News poll shows Americans have, for the most part, not been scared away from atomic power by the crisis facing Japan.

Only 44 percent of those who took part in the CBS telephone survey said they were more fearful of a possible nuclear accident in the U.S., even as Japan struggles to put the lid on their own potential catastrophe at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

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Fifty-three percent of those polled said they were no more fearful of a similar catastrophe in the U.S. than they were prior to the ongoing issues at Fukushima.

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Politicians, particularly in quake-prone California -- which gets about 12 percent of its energy from nuclear plants -- are perhaps more concerned.

Several state lawmakers in California, including a geophysicist who has long criticized the power company which runs at least two of the plants in his state, are demanding the company carry out more detailed earthquake preparedness studies before they seek to renew licenses to operate the plants.

Women (51%) were more likely than men (37%) to say they had become more fearful of a nuclear accident in the U.S. than were men; with 51 percent of women expressing greater concern and 37 percent of men saying the same.

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Read the complete poll


This poll was conducted by telephone on March 18-21, 2011 among 1,022 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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