A public opinion poll conducted by research firm Bisconti Research found that those who felt they were better informed about nuclear power were also more likely to be in favor of its use in the United States.
Bisconti's Spring 2016 survey found that a majority of Americans favor nuclear power. Sixty-seven percent favored nuclear energy, while 29 percent were opposed, the firm said, indicating that “favorability to nuclear energy has remained in the mid to upper sixties for most of the past decade.”
However, the majority of opinions is somewhere near the middle – neither strongly in favor nor strongly opposed. “At the two ends, 26 percent strongly favor nuclear energy and 11 percent strongly oppose,” the survey found. “In the middle, nearly two-thirds are fence sitters – that is, they somewhat favor nuclear energy, somewhat oppose, or are unsure.”
While those who felt better informed were more likely to support nuclear energy, only a small minority indicated they felt they were “very well informed” about the industry, Bisconti said. In the Spring 2016 survey, 21 percent indicated they felt very well informed, while 42 percent indicated they felt “somewhat well informed.” An additional 26 percent feel “not too well informed,” while the bottom 11 percent indicated they felt “not well informed at all.”
That said, “Favorability to nuclear energy is closely correlated with the degree to which people feel informed about the topic,” Bisconti said.
Of those who feel “very well informed,” 54 percent strongly favor nuclear energy, 22 percent somewhat favored nuclear energy, while 7 percent were somewhat opposed and 18 percent strongly opposed.
Fluor-BWXT-Portsmouth, the US Department of Energy's (DOE) contractor for the decommissioning of the Portsmouth site, removed the last of over 7000 components from the X-326 facility on 21 March. More than 6800 of those components have been shipped offsite for disposal.
The components were part of 2340 enrichment "stages", each consisting of a compressor, a converter and a cooler, plus interconnecting pipes. The converters alone weigh almost 5 tonnes each. Each of Portsmouth's three process buildings - X326, X-330 and X-333 - covers over 12 hectares and housed uranium enrichment equipment. Deactivation activities are under way at all three.
DOE site lead Joel Bradburne said the "difficult and hazardous" work had presented many challenges which had all been met. "The Fluor-BWXT X-326 Deactivation team has removed the largest sources of contamination and safely shipped these components offsite for disposal. In the process the Portsmouth D&D Project has become one of the largest shippers in the DOE complex for offsite disposal," he said.
The deactivation work has presented challenges from radiological, industrial and safety perspectives. These involved chemical hazards and radiological contamination issues. They also included hoisting and rigging, welding and torch cutting, and work in confined spaces. Up to 300 employees and support staff worked on the project.
Work is now under way to characterize auxiliary systems and remove any held-up uranium and hazardous materials inside them. "Our plan is to have the X-326 'cold and dark' and ready for demolition by June of 2017," Bradburne said.
The Portsmouth plant began operations in 1954, originally as part of the USA's nuclear weapons complex, but produced fuel for commercial nuclear plants from the 1960s. Enrichment operations ended in 2001, after which the plant was maintained in cold standby for ten years.