Italian Citizens and Nuclear Energy: Is the Debate Starting Again?

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More than one Italian citizen over two remains convinced (56,1%) that Italy should not consider building nuclear plants. However, if one takes into account the quasi-total closure recorded in Italy on this theme since a poll banned nuclear power in 1987, it is worth noting that 22,1% of interviewees think that Italy should invest in the production of nuclear energy, and another 21,8% does not have a clear opinion on the matter Those who deem nuclear power a worthy strategic investment for Italy cite motivate their own opinion mainly on account of the fact that currently available energy sources are insufficient (29,8%) as well as of the fact that also thermoelectrical plants are polluting the environment (26,1%). Slightly less frequently cited as reasons are the need to be less dependent from countries exporting oil and the presence of nuclear plants in other industrialized countries (22% each). Those who oppose reconsidering nuclear power options motivate their opinions in four cases over ten (42,4%) with the availability of alternative energy sources, then with the difficulty of managing radioactive waste (32,3%). Insufficient safety of nuclear plants is cited by one over three among those opposing nuclear energy (32,3%) while only 4,9% think that the major problem would be that of siting such plants, since no local government would like to have one in its area. Among those who are uncertain, the great majority (78%) think they do not have the competence to decide; 22% instead believes that pros and cons of nuclear power balance.

The survey was conducted on a sample of 876 subjects, representative of Italian population aged over 18, under the scientific supervision of Federico Neresini (University of Padua), Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento) and Giuseppe Pellegrini (University of Padua).

With this study Observa continues its permanent observatory of the relations between citizens, institutions and research. The results from the previous surveys, touching themes such as public attitudes to assisted reproduction, are available at www.observanet.it

Observa is an independent research centre and non profit organization which intends creating a bridge between scientific research, political decisions and public opinion. The main aims of Observa activities are to analyse, develop and evaluate solutions for public participation in a scientific, technological, health and environmental context; innovative procedures to involve the public in complex decisions and, in general, forms of dialogue between scientists and the wider public.

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