Japan’s nuclear crisis has raised questions about whether or not an emergency of that proportion could occur in the United States. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly six in ten Americans — 57% — say it could happen here. Included here are 16% who think it is very likely and 41% who say a nuclear power plant emergency is likely. However, 31% believe it is not very likely, and 9% report it is not likely at all to happen. Just 2%are unsure.
“Americans certainly don’t rule out the possibility of a nuclear emergency here,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Although a majority think it is likely to be an accident at a power plant, a sizeable proportion is worried about a terror attack.”
If such a power plant emergency were to take place, is the U.S. government prepared to handle it? Americans divide. 49% report the country is either very prepared or prepared to take on such a tragedy while 48% say it is not very prepared or not prepared at all to do so. Among those who think the nation is ready to handle this type of situation are 10% who believe the government is very prepared and 39% who say it is prepared. Looking at those who are less confident, about one-third — 33% — report America is not very prepared, and 15% believe it is not prepared at all. Just 4% are unsure.
Accident Not an Attack, Say Residents
A majority of Americans — 56% — believe that if the United States were to face a nuclear crisis today, it would be a result of an accident at a nuclear power plant. However, four in ten — 40% — think an act of terrorism would be behind it. Four percent are unsure.