IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



The IRSN barometer of the opinion on risks and security, a 10 years old practical tool to observe the perception of risks in France

S. Charron, H. Mansoux, J. Brenot, S. Bonnefous IRPA-10: 10. international congress of the International Radiation Protection Association Hiroshima (Japan) 14-19 May 2000, P-10-177


IRSN has been working since 1987 on the psychological and sociological aspects of risks. To organise a sociological survey, a barometer of the public opinion on risks and security was started in 1988 and is still going on. The goal of this barometer is to study and to measure the evolution of the opinions and attitudes of the public towards risks issues. On average, two surveys are conducted per year on a representative sample of the French population. The realisation of the poll is carried out by a specialised survey institute. At least once a year a general survey is realised, with no change in the questions asked, in order to see the evolution of the public opinions as a function of time. This survey contains a total of 200 items organised in about 25 questions, takes20 to 45 minutes per face-to-face interview and is submitted to 900 to 1200 people. More specific and shorter polls are also done to sound the public opinion on one or two precise risks related to the radiological field. On the overall, the mains themes which appear in the barometer are : - Perception of various risky situations in terms of personal risk, risk for the society, need for security, trust in the authorities for their protective actions of the public towards risks, - Social and environmental preoccupation, - Perception of the Chernobyl accident, - Relation between mortality causes and perceived risks, - Cultural dimensions of risks, - Acceptability of risky situations, - Truthfulness of information on risks, - Nuclear energy : knowledge and information, - Image of institutions and organisations intervening in the nuclear sector, - Opinion on the distribution of iodine tablets around the French nuclear power plants, - Opinion on waste in general and more specifically on nuclear waste and milling uranium ores. All the results are public and are stored into a data base allowing various statistical treatments on all the information collected over more than ten years, allowing relationship studies of sociological characteristics of the interviewees and their perception of risks. This presentation gives more detailed information on the barometer itself, and the most interesting figures reflecting the French public opinion on risks in the last decade.


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