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Recent Crisis in Japan Has Had Little Impact on Americans' Views on Nuclear Power: Poll

Many acknowledge health concerns, but also believe nuclear power plants can be made safer

NORWALK, Conn., USA (March 31, 2011) –Three weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled four nuclear reactors in Japan, Americans are displaying only a slight shift in their opinions on nuclear power, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll shows.

The U.S. public is almost equally divided on whether or not more nuclear power plants should be built on American soil, with 41 percent supporting the idea and 39 percent opposed. This represents only a slight change from three years ago, when 49 percent supported nuclear plants and 32 percent opposed them, according to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released today.

"The problems with Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have clearly influenced American attitudes to nuclear energy, but not by as much as I expected," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll Interactive. "Support for building more nuclear power plants in the United States is down," he noted , but "that still leaves the public split, 41 percent to 39 percent, with 20 percent not sure. Most people recognize the potential dangers of nuclear accidents but continue to think that nuclear power plants are at least 'somewhat safe.'"

Today’s poll results are not surprising to analysts from Harris Interactive. In the mid-1970s they released a poll that indicated almost two-thirds of Americans were in favor of nuclear power. Following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, however, only 47 percent were pro with 45 percent against.

More important poll results:

  •   73 percent of respondents believed that nuclear waste disposal remains a "major
      problem," while 55 percent thought that the possible escape of radioactivity into
       the atmosphere is equally dangerous.
  •   Almost a third of all adults (29 percent) still consider nuclear power plants "very
      safe," with  another 34 percent saying they are "somewhat safe." In 2008, those
      numbers were very similar,  at 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
  •   46 percent of U.S. adults agreed that, "The risk of accidents and radiation
      exposure from nuclear power plants is too high to be acceptable."
  •   More than half (55 percent) of Americans agreed that there is need to build
      nuclear power plants because they do not produce greenhouse gases that
      contribute to global warming and climate change unlike those that use oil, gas or
      coal.
  •   Additionally 59 percent of those surveyed agree to this statement, "It is OK to
      build nuclear power plants if we build them far enough away from earthquake fault
      lines and areas with large populations."

The poll included 2,090 adults over age 18 who were surveyed online between March 23-25, 2011, by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms, and HealthDay, a leading producer and syndicator of health news.

The complete findings of the newest joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll are available here. HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.

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About HealthDay
HealthDay, a division of Scout News LLC, is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is the largest syndicator of that news to Internet sites. Its consumer health news service (www.healthday.com) appears on more than 5,000 Web sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, iVillage, US News & World Report, hundreds of hospitals and hospital group Web sites, as well as print publication Web sites across the country. HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (www.physiciansbriefing.com), a news service for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals updated twice daily providing 15 articles a day across 32 medical specialties. HealthDay also provides custom content for major health portals. The newest addition to the HealthDay portfolio is HealthDay TV -- a 90-second news broadcast of essential health information that appears on several major media Web sites, U.S. government Web sites and other health information sites.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.  

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