Population soars near nuclear reactors - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Population soars near nuclear reactors

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- Nuclear energy has been in the news lately, and unfortunately it hasn't been good news, until now.

An interactive map of the U.S. from MSNBC using information for the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of people living within ten miles of a nuclear reactor has increased by 17 percent in the last ten years. There's been an increase in most areas, including here in the Tri-Cities.

"Well the interesting thing is that among people who live near nuclear facilities, their support for nuclear energy is much higher from those that don't live near nuclear energy. So, I think you get a comfort level from being in the area," says John Dobken of Energy Northwest.

According to MSNBC's map, of Richland's 48,058 residents since 2000, there's been a 23 percent increase in people living within 50 miles of the reactor. Just 5 miles away, there's been a 61 percent increase.

Dobken adds that the financial impact that Energy Northwest has for the community has influenced the number of people re-locating.