05/30/2013 - 16:17

Nuclear power and the public

M. V. Ramana

A physicist, Ramana is currently appointed jointly with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and...

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Opinion polls show that public support for nuclear power has declined since the Fukushima crisis began, not only in Japan but also in other nations around the world. People oppose nuclear power for a variety of reasons, but the predominant concern is the perception that it is a risky technology. Some communities that are closely associated with it even suffer from stigmatization. The nuclear industry has tried a variety of strategies to break down public resistance to nuclear power—including information campaigns, risk comparisons, and efforts to promote nuclear power as a solution to climate change. None of these strategies has worked well, mostly because the public lacks trust in the nuclear industry. Public resistance to nuclear power is likely to continue, making it difficult to site and build new reactors. This resistance may be a major obstacle to the rapid expansion of nuclear power.