French Support for Nuclear Power Rises Ahead of Law, Poll Shows

French public support for nuclear power is rising ahead of recommendations on a new energy policy law for the country, as fears about its dangers fade.

Some 36 percent of people surveyed said they favored France’s use of nuclear power with only 14 percent saying they opposed it, an Ifop poll released today for the newspaper Ouest France showed. That compares with 32 percent in favor of nuclear power and 20 percent opposed in July 2011.

Concerns about nuclear power rose in France after a March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, causing three reactor core meltdowns, forcing about 160,000 people to evacuate and leaving about 132 square kilometers as a no-go zone.

French President Francois Hollande has pledged to cut the country’s reliance on nuclear power. Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors currently provide more than three-quarters of electricity, a proportion Hollande vowed to reduce to 50 percent by around 2025.

Yet the proportion of people who say France should reduce its dependence on nuclear power because of the energy’s dangers is declining. When surveyed late last month, 41 percent held that view, compared with 46 percent who said in March 2013 that the country should reduce its nuclear dependence, the poll showed.

The poll was conducted on May 29 and May 30 among 2,004 people age 18 or older and has a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points.

Recommendations on France’s planned law on energy policy and the country’s power-production mix will be presented to Hollande in September and the bill will reach parliament at the beginning of 2014, Environment Minister Delphine Batho said on June 5.

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