The Cooper Nuclear Station sits near the Missouri River in Richardson County, Nebraska, three miles south of Brownville.

A majority of respondents to a recently commissioned survey reveals a continued complimentary perspective of the region’s lone nuclear power plant.

Nearly 250 people who live within 10 miles of the Cooper Nuclear Station in southeast Nebraska participated in a research survey created by Maryland-based Bisconti Research Inc., with assistance from Canada’s Quest Global Research. The document’s release comes on the heels of a hydrogen leak discovered at the plant earlier this month.

The project’s intent was to ascertain opinions of people living the facility, operated by the Nebraska Public Power District and located 3 miles south of Brownville near the Missouri River.

Ann Bisconti, the research firm’s president, said the support received by Cooper’s neighbors surpassed the benchmarks set by a simultaneous survey of residents in a 10-mile radius of the nation’s 59 nuclear power plants.

“Results are nearly the same as they were six years ago,” Bisconti said.

The survey found that 92 percent of those in the plant’s vicinity favorably viewed its recent operations, with 71 percent offering a very favorable impression.

Respondents also said they like nuclear energy as a power source, with 88 percent in favor.

“Their support for the resource is grounded in high awareness of nuclear energy’s benefits in supporting jobs and the economy, while providing clean, reliable and affordable electricity,” the report said.

Researchers said the support stems from perceptions of the plant’s safe operations and a positive regard for the power district’s impact on the economy, jobs, safety, community outreach and protection of the environment.

Pat Pope, the utility’s president and chief executive officer, said Nebraska Public Power also provides for electricity generated from wind, water and solar as part of its energy portfolio.

“Yet renewables cannot provide the consistently reliable and carbon-free electricity to the scale CNS can,” he said. “It’s a power source which addresses climate change while ensuring our customers have electricity whenever they need it.”

Among other findings of the survey, a total of 72 percent of the respondents believe people living near a nuclear plant are unlikely to be exposed to harmful radiation levels. Just over 60 percent said used fuel is stored safely at the station.

The last plant neighbor survey was conducted for Cooper in 2011. Bisconti specializes in research of energy issues.

Local governments, such as those in Atchison County, Missouri, and Rock Port, Missouri, routinely participate in mock disaster preparedness and response exercises with Cooper that have earned passing grades from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Ray Scherer can be reached at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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