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Public Support for Nuclear Waste Management Is Strong

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WASHINGTON, DC., March 31, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A majority of Americans continue to support the creation of an independent federal authority to manage the storage of used nuclear fuel and believe it would do a better job than a federal agency, a new public opinion survey found.

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe an independent federal authority with a corporate-style board of directors would be more effective and would better manage used fuel storage than a "federal government agency" favored by 39 percent of those polled, according to the national survey conducted by Bisconti Research Inc. with Quest Global Research.

Bisconti Research conducted the national survey of public opinion (see questionnaire) Feb. 18 to March 1, prior to the introduction in the U.S. Senate last week of legislation that would reform the federal government's nuclear waste management program. The bipartisan legislation includes provisions that would establish an independent entity to oversee nuclear waste management.

Consolidated storage of the used uranium fuel that is the byproduct of electricity production at nuclear energy facilities received strong public support. Eighty-four percent of Americans believe "the United States should retool its program for managing spent nuclear fuel rods from nuclear power plants to focus on consolidating the fuel rods at interim storage centers while the nation develops a permanent disposal facility." Nearly half—45 percent—of Americans strongly agree, with only five percent strongly disagreeing.

"The public may express changing views about who should manage the storage facilities, but support for consolidating used nuclear fuel has been constant for a long time," said Bisconti Research President Ann Bisconti.

Consolidated storage of used nuclear fuel was among the recommendations made to the Department of Energy by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. The commission also recommended creation of a new, congressionally chartered federal corporation dedicated solely to implementing the nuclear waste management program.

The survey also found that 62 percent of Americans agree that used nuclear fuel rods are stored safely at nuclear power plant sites. Thirty-one percent of respondents disagree.

Eighty-six percent of Americans believe the federal government should develop a final repository for used nuclear fuel "as long as the facility meets U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations." Twelve percent disagree. This opinion is shared by 88 percent in the Northeast, 84 percent in the Midwest, 87 percent in the South, and 86 percent in the West.

For the survey, a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults was interviewed by landline and cell phone. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Ninety-nine nuclear energy facilities operating in 30 states produce nearly 20 percent of the electricity in the United States.

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.

CONTACT: Contact NEI's media relations staff at media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 during business hours or 703.644.8805 after hours and weekends.

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