Most French want to keep nuclear power: poll

PARIS (Reuters) - Most French people want to keep nuclear energy, which meets three quarters of their electricity needs, a TNS Sofres poll in daily Les Echos said on Monday.

The survey commissioned by state-owned power producer EDF was carried out on March 15 and 16 after the Japan earthquake of March 11.

Of the 1,000 sample, 55 percent said they were not in favor of a proposal by France’s main green party to drop nuclear power. Some 42 percent were in favor.

The left-leaning green party Europe Ecologie-Les Verts has called for a referendum on the issue. The opposition socialist party has called for France to stop its nuclear energy expansion program.

Cecile Duflot, head of the green Europe Ecologie-Les verts party said on Monday her party would publish a second poll, also carried out by TNS Sofres, showing the opposite result.

The survey was not yet available to the public.

Some 7 out of 10 people interviewed said they believed a nuclear accident such as Fukushima could happen in France but 62 percent said they trusted EDF, which runs the country’s 58 reactors, to prevent any risk of a nuclear accident.

France’s faith in nuclear energy has been unshaken since it decided to launch a massive nuclear energy program after the oil shocks of the 1970s to boost its energy independence. It was the only country to press ahead with its plans after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The French public has largely favored nuclear energy because they benefit from electricity bills lower than the European average and also because the industry emits virtually no carbon dioxide, although radioactive waste and its disposal remains a focus for debate.

Editing by William Hardy, reporting by Muriel Boselli