Skip to main content

Polling Nuclear in California and Japan

san-onofre-power-plant Looking at recent stories from the AP and Al-Jazeera, as we’ve done over the last week, may make one think that the media has the knives out for the nuclear energy industry. To be honest, journalists never, and never should, put the knives back in the case. Trying to find malfeasance is a goal of journalism. Finding it is the tough part.

While I think the nuclear energy industry provides a poor target for malfeasance hunting, the accident at Fukushima Daiichi has put the industry front and center, so any reporter looking to fill an annoying empty space on the wall with a Pulitzer Prize has zeroed in on nuclear energy. So be it – let’s wish them well.

But let’s not pretend the stories are even remotely fair, largely because fairness would ruin the arguments. Instead, one can just point out the flaws, link to documents that demonstrate the flaws, and note logical inconsistencies.

And, of course, wait. The media is like a school of sharks in that it has to keep moving to keep up with events. Oil spills yesterday, nuclear energy today, what next? – windmills and birds? solar arrays and land use? a coal ash spill? Something. Just wait it out.

Because once the movable feast moves on, the more mundane stories will attain more prominence or at least not be embedded in negative stories:

56 percent of Californians said they believe that the state's existing power plants are safe, compared with 32 percent who do not. When asked whether existing nuclear plants in the state should be phased out over a 10-year period, 46 percent were opposed, while 39 percent were in favor.

The actual lede is that more Californians than in a previous poll do not want new facilities built. Fukushima is still pretty fresh in the mind, so this is to be expected. But determining that California’s current facilities are safe and should not be phased out – and remember, California is quite seismically active, like Japan – is rather more surprising. This might explain why, partially:

The poll also found that 53 percent of registered voters said they oppose allowing oil companies to drill more oil and gas wells in state tidelands along the California coast, while 43 percent believed they should be allowed to drill.

We can’t assume too much based on such skimpy information, but environmental concerns seem to play a part in Californians’ thinking, which may tilt opinions away from oil and toward nuclear.

---

Speaking of polls, what are the Japanese thinking these days?

But surprisingly in Japan, 45 percent of people still view nuclear power as a viable energy option and 71 percent support its modernization.

"The Japanese people still show some realism," said Henri Wallard, deputy chief executive officer at [polling firm] Ipsos "They believe they will continue to use nuclear energy in the energy mix for some time."

Support for nuclear power was strongest in India, Poland and the United States where the majority of people supported it.

Now, to be honest, Ipsos is showing that in most countries, nuclear energy has lost some support. And that’s really the result you’d expect in Japan, too, not that the Japanese would want to continue with it.

In general, polls taken around the time of an accident – this was true of the BP spill as well – tend to focus all answers through the accident. But it’s interesting that some more upbeat numbers are peeking though polls about nuclear energy – a trendline, as they say in poll-speak, there’s no reason not to expect continue. (That also happened in polling on the BP spill.)

Surfing and San Onofre – just says California, doesn’t it?

Comments

Bill Rodgers said…
Good news, Mark about the opinion polls

And good point about waiting it out. The machine needs headlines to keep it going. Eventually the headlines just won't be there especially when the flood waters receed fom Ft. Calhoun and Cooper. This to shall pass.

Great photo by the way.
The commercial nuclear power industry is still making a big mistake, IMO, by limiting itself solely to the production of base load electricity. Using nuclear electricity to produce methanol through the synthesis of hydrogen and CO2 (from air or from biowaste) would allow the nuclear industry to expand into peak load electricity production.

Being able to produce a carbon neutral synfuel for the production of clean electricity that could be transported by pipeline or by tanker practically anywhere on Earth, would allow the nuclear industry to produce electricity and waste heat for practically any community on Earth-- even if such communities are hostile to nuclear power plants in their local area.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…