In Chelyabinsk, an independent group under the direction of sociologist Nadezhda Kutepova conducted an opinion poll with the purpose to find out how the city’s inhabitants value the state of environment. The results of the poll showed that the local population makes tight connection between the state of the environment and the existence of the large nuclear enterprise in the region.
The overwhelming majority of the respondents (82.2%) know that there is plant “Mayak” in the region and that its activity is connected with storage and reprocessing of radioactive elements (80.2%). This fact alarms the inhabitants. Only 0.6% of the inhabitants of the city believe there is no risk of radioactive contamination from the plant, while 99.4% of the respondents indicate the opposite opinion. The inhabitants believe that other ways of radioactivity penetration (through air, drinking water, food) are equally possible.
One in two respondents claimed to know that Chelyabinsk region is recognised as the most radioactively-contaminated territory in the world. More than 2/3 of the respondents said they had friends or relatives who suffered from radioactive exposure (38,7%).
One of the purposes of the poll was to find out what people in Chelyabinsk think about future development of the nuclear objects in the region. The results speak for themselves:
1. Only 56.9% know about the plans of resuming construction of South-Ural nuclear power plant. But 83.3% of those polled believe that its activity will influence negatively the health of the region inhabitants. More women than men have such an opinion.
2. Only half of the respondents know that it is planned to bring foreign spent nuclear fuel for storage in the region. But at the same time 87.4% of respondents consider unacceptable import of the foreign spent nuclear fuel to Chelyabinsk region for its further storage here.
3. The usage of MOX fuel is broadly discussed today. The Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, Yevgeniy Adamov, believes that it is the most acceptable way of released plutonium usage, and that the local population will greet its usage. The poll has showed the opposite.
The term MOX fuel is unknown to 94.5% of the respondents, nor do Chelyabinsk inhabitants know the consequences of the usage of such fuel. Therefore, it is impossible to judge the attitude of the population to the usage of this fuel.
4. The poll also showed that inhabitants of Chelyabinsk are ready to defend their position on ecological issues actively which will demand their participation. Respondents are ready to sign a letter to the government to state their point of view at a referendum or to take part in actions or demonstrations to protest against the decisions, which in their opinion are wrong.