Plant neighbor survey indicates positive perception of Cooper Nuclear Station

September 19, 2011

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Columbus, Neb. – A recent community survey, conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute, indicates neighbors of Cooper Nuclear Station in southeastern Nebraska about Cooper Nuclear Station have an overall positive perception about the facility and its owner, Nebraska Public Power District.

In June, NEI conducted a nationwide “Nuclear Plant Neighbor Survey,” asking residents who live around 64 of the U.S. nuclear plants their perceptions about nuclear power and their local facility. NEI also offered to conduct site-specific surveys for plants participating in the larger study, and NPPD’s Board of Directors accepted the opportunity. The telephonic survey for Cooper started in July and concluded in August, after reaching 300 residents: 177 within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone and 123 who live within 20 miles of the plant. Households with persons who worked at Cooper Nuclear Station were not included in the survey.

“I am very pleased with the results,” said Brian O’Grady, chief nuclear officer at Cooper. “Usually in the nuclear business, no news is good news, and considering the survey was done in the aftermath of Fukushima and amid the Missouri River flooding, these results are worth sharing.”

Survey topics focused on nuclear energy in general, community perceptions of Cooper, and plant communications and outreach. Observations by the survey researchers indicated that the “similarity of perceptions and attitudes measured inside the 10-mile zone compared to those 11-20 miles from the plant validate the findings.”

Some of the survey results include:

  • 94 percent give Cooper a high safety rating on a scale of 1-7 with 56 percent of those giving it a “7.”
  • 94 percent associate Cooper with “helping the economy” or “job creation” (92 percent).
  • 92 percent of Cooper’s neighbors have a favorable attitude toward Cooper and the way it operates.
  • 91 percent think waste is safely contained at the plant site.
  • 87 percent think their community has a favorable impression of Cooper.
  • 85 percent feel Cooper’s employees are accurate and reliable resources of information
  • 84 percent feel informed about the plant.
  • 83 percent believe Cooper’s community outreach or involvement is high
  • 74 percent think it is unlikely people living near a nuclear power plant are exposed to harmful radiation levels.
  • 73 percent are acceptable of adding a new nuclear reactor at the site.
  • 60 percent believe used nuclear fuel can be stored safely at the plant

In its summary, survey researchers concluded there is strong community support based on survey results noting, “Perceived excellence in the plant’s safety and environmental performance underpin this community support. There is also high awareness of nuclear energy’s positive attributes and confidence in the company and people of the plant. Community involvement and the large number of residents who look to people who work at the plant for information testify to the plant’s good integration into the community. The high trust in information from plant sources provides a good opportunity for deepening support and understanding.”