I think there are three kinds of people when it comes to support of or opposition to nuclear power plants:
1. Rabid opponents who are just against anything nuclear, regardless of the facts. They are scared of the word nuclear itself and can’t be talked to about safe radiation levels, the benefits of relatively clean energy and historical safety records. They will never budge from their position because their political dogma doesn’t let them admit error.
2. Rabid supporters who are in favor of nuclear power plants for political reasons and like to sneer at “tree huggers” opposed to it and who think of themselves as being rational about it, when they are not, like Ron Paul. Come hell or high water (or low water in this case) they will never budge from their position because their political dogma doesn’t let them admit error.
3. People like me who have some scientific background, or an intelligent lay-person’s knowledge of nuclear power, have always disliked excessive fear-mongering, were not activists against nuclear power, preferred other clean energy sources but basically accepted it as necessary to meet energy demands and more-or-less thought it was under control in the hands of experts. People in our group are not wedded to nuclear fission by any political philosophy and are willing to change our position depending on new facts and events. In other words, we aren’t dogmatic.
I think people in my group have moved into the “reasoned opposition” camp after this week’s events.
We see how nuclear power plant accidents, unlike with other energy technologies, cannot be isolated to just the few who work providing the energy and find that unreasonable.
We see unacceptable risks now, and a technology too prone to unknown circumstances and failed backup systems.
And we see a technology that wouldn’t naturally exist if the free market had to bear the entire burden of the risks and liabilities. Without government-imposed limits on liability it would be an uninsurable technology and people would simply come up with something better and safer.
Basically, I think the events at Fukushima have re-awakened reasonable, open-minded people to giving the technology a “sanity check” and find it lacking.