Vermont Town Halls Went 14-1 for Closure of Vermont Yankee Reactor, as Anticipated by Civil Society Institute Opinion Survey
CSI Poll Released on Eve of Town Hall Meetings Found Tritium Leaks Pushing Two Thirds of Vermonters to Favor Closure of Reactor by 2012, Only 9 Percent Picking Nuclear to Power Home
MONTPELIER, Vt., March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – As predicted based on a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) for the nonpartisan and nonprofit Civil Society Institute, the vast majority of Vermont Town Halls deliberating this week the fate of the Vermont Yankee came out in support of closure of the controversial nuclear reactor by 2012. The final tally of Town Halls in Vermont opposing the relicensing of Vermont Yankee was 14-1.
The town of Rockingham was alone in passing a pro-Vermont Yankee resolution and, even then, only by a margin of three votes, according to reports. Towns voting in favor of shutting down Vermont Yankee were: Thetford, Bristol, Fayston, Brookfield, Montgomery, Woodstock, Moretown, Waitsfield, Danville, Cabot, Huntington, Sharon and Jamaica. Additionally, Cambridge elected to table the issue.
Pam Solo, founder and president, Civil Society Institute, said: “Our survey pointed to the likelihood that the Vermont Town Halls would come out along the lines of the earlier Vermont Senate vote to close Vermont Yankee by 2012. With literally dozens of other reactors plagued with similar tritium leaks, we see a clear message here for a U.S. nuclear power industry: You can’t sell Americans on the notion that you are providing ‘clean and safe’ power at the same time that you are leaking a radioactive substance into wells and other bodies of water. Citizens in other states may not be able to intervene as directly in reactor issues as Vermonters can, but the Town Hall votes and our survey findings suggest that Americans are unlikely to remain silent about tritium leaks and other legitimate safety concerns.”
The Civil Society Institute’s scientific survey of 802 adult Vermont residents was based on Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) polling that took place February 19-22nd immediately before the Vermont Senate vote on Vermont Yankee relicensing. CSI believes that the findings resonate nationally in that a main driver of deteriorating public support for Vermont Yankee centered on the leaking of radioactive tritium, a problem that also is playing out at 27 or more of the nation’s 104 reactors across 31 states.
Key survey findings reported by Opinion Research Corporation included the following:
- About two thirds of Vermont residents (65 percent) say “reports about Vermont Yankee leaking radioactive tritium into testing wells and surrounding water” make them “more likely to support the 2012 closure of the reactor.” That includes 44 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents.
- Of those Vermont residents who heard about the radioactive tritium leak at Vermont Yankee, nearly four in five (79 percent) said they are concerned about it, including more than half (52 percent) who are “very concerned.” Only about one in five (21 percent) of this group said that they were not concerned, with just 6 percent saying they were “not concerned at all.” Even when the 20 percent of state residents who have not heard about the tritium leak are added, the percentage of all state residents who are concerned about the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee still accounts for 63 percent of the state’s adult population.
- Overall, 71 percent of state residents are “less supportive now of Vermont Yankee, the nuclear reactor, than [they] were six months ago.” That includes 57 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Democrats and two thirds of Independents.
- Given a choice, fewer than one in 10 Vermont residents (9 percent) would ask their power company to use nuclear energy to power their homes, compared to 71 percent who selected “wind, solar and other clean-energy technologies.”
- The fact that Entergy has been unable to find the source of the tritium leaks makes more than three out of four Vermont residents (76 percent) “less confident in the company’s ability to safely manage a nuclear reactor”.
- About half of Vermont residents (49 percent) see nuclear power as a “power source of yesterday,” compared to compared to 94 percent for solar, 92 percent for wind and 78 percent for hydroelectric as “power sources of tomorrow” that should play a bigger, rather than smaller, role in the U.S. energy supply picture.
- Nine out of 10 Vermont residents (89 percent) say that Entergy — not Vermont taxpayers — “should have to foot the bill for decommissioning Vermont Yankee.” That includes 83 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of Independents.
- 68 percent of Vermont residents would support closure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 “assuming that a combination of increased energy efficiency, clean energy, such as hydroelectric, wind and solar and natural gas could be used to offset the electricity from the reactor.” That includes 48 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents.
- 71 percent of Vermont residents would support closure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 “assuming that many new jobs could be created through investments in new clean energy technologies, such as hydroelectric, wind and solar.” That includes 47 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Independents.
- Only 46 percent of state residents trust Entergy to clean up the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee, compared to 47 percent who do not.
- Two thirds of Vermonters now give Entergy a low rating for “trustworthiness” — with 37 percent saying “very low” and 29 percent “somewhat low.” Only about one in four state residents (26 percent) give Entergy high marks for trustworthiness.
- Nearly three out five state residents (58 percent) give Entergy low marks for “competence” — with 26 percent saying “very low” and 33 percent “somewhat low.” Fewer than one in three (29 percent) give Entergy high marks for competence.
- Four out of five state residents (79 percent) have heard about the tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee. Only 20 percent have not.
For complete survey findings, go to http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org on the Web.
The Civil Society Institute survey by Opinion Research Corporation was conducted February 19-22, 2010 among a sample of 802 adults comprising 399 men and 403 women 18 years of age and older living in the state of Vermont. Completed interviews are weighted by two variables, age and gender, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total state population, 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
ABOUT THE CIVIL SOCIETY INSTITUTE
Based in Newton, MA, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and state-level surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition to being a co-convener of CLEAN, the Civil Society Institute also is the parent organization of 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org).
EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the March 1, 2010 news event at which the Vermont survey results were announced is available on the Web at http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.
SOURCE Civil Society Institute, Newton, MA