When it comes to public opinion, nuclear power has run the gamut from a promising new source of plentiful electricity to a nightmarish, sci-fi-like technology that should be shunned, lest the entire planet suffer a meltdown.


Now, the industry has apparently recovered from such memorable, recent accidents as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and achieved general, widespread acceptance.


Conducted earlier this year by Bisconti Research Inc. and Quest Global Research on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a new survey shows popular opinion is strongly in favor of nuclear power.


According to the survey, more than two-thirds of Americans favor nuclear power. Specifically, 68 percent of the respondents “favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States.”


The numbers are definitely trending upward. Only half of the respondents viewed nuclear power favorably 30 years ago when the institute first began tracking public opinion, and 63 percent gave a favorable response on the same survey in 2014.


Sentiment varies by region, with slightly higher favorable ratings in the Midwest (76 percent) and South (71 percent), compared to other areas.


Most respondents seem to be realistic about the part that nuclear power will play in the nation’s energy mix. According to the survey, 78 percent believe nuclear energy will play an important role in meeting the nation’s electricity needs.


They also seem to believe that all energy-generating options must be left on the table. According to the survey, 96 percent of Americans believe it is important to maintain energy diversity, and 86 percent agree that “we should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, to produce the electricity we need while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.”


On the subject of safety, most respondents seem to be assured that nuclear power plants operate safely. According to the survey, 79 percent agree that American nuclear power plants “are safe and secure.” That is up from 70 percent last year and 35 percent in 1984.


According to Ann Bisconti, president of the research firm, “The 30-year trend on nuclear plant safety is remarkable.”