You would think people would know whether they live close to nuclear reactors, fracing wells and refineries. A study by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center found, rather surprisingly, that many people are blissfully unaware of their neighbors.
Fifty-four percent of American adults who live within 25 miles of a nuclear site know they do, according to the proximity-and-risk perceptions study, “Proximity (Mis)perception: Public Awareness of Nuclear, Refinery, and Fracking Sites.” Some 30 percent of those living within 25 miles of fracing wells and refineries (24%) answered correctly that they knew their neighbors.
Here’s the kicker. People who viewed it risky to be close to nuclear, refinery and fracing sites were less likely to report that they lived near one. In contrast, those who live near the energy sites were more likely to say so when they believed that the sites are safe.
“We found that people are really accurate overall: Most people don’t live near these nuclear, fracking, and refinery sites and they say they don’t,” says lead author Benjamin A. Lyons, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “But if you look at people who live within 25 miles of these sites, many of them say they don’t – despite the objective reality.”