25 Years After Chernobyl - A Bigger Threat Now From Japan?

May 02, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Americans rank the threat from the post-earthquake and tsunami problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan as equal to or even worse than the accident that took place at Chernobyl exactly 25 years ago. 

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 39% regard the Fukushima accident as just as serious as Chernobyl, 28% say it is even worse. The Fukushima damage seems to have made many worry more about the safety of nuclear power than they were a year ago. Now the country is divided on whether nuclear power is safe or not: 38% say nuclear power plants are safe, 39% say they are not. Last February, more Americans viewed nuclear power as safe. 

Concern about safety has risen dramatically among political independents. Republicans viewed nuclear power as safe both before and after the tsunami. Democrats saw it as unsafe in both polls. But in 2010, independents views nuclear power plants as safe by nearly two to one (57% to 24%). Now that group is divided.

Overall, Americans narrowly support building more nuclear power plants to generate electricity — by 44% to 38%. But in 2010, 60% were in favor. And as for having a plant in their own community, Americans don’t want to see that happen: 49% disapprove of building plants in their community, 36% approve. 

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.

Photo source: flickr ( londoncyclist )

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