This paper investigates the 2011 Italian referendum on nuclear power as a clean laboratory for recovering information on the spatial pattern of votes about the construction (or restoration) of nuclear facilities. Our results show that voting preferences on building nuclear facilities are sensible to proximity determined by a strong local component. Voters'opposition to nuclear installments tends to be even higher when the effect of both existing and proposed plants is taken into account. The study tracks the changes of risk perception and voting preferences finding a positive correlation between the distance-related perceived nuclear risk and the share of participation against nuclear power. The perceived risk and the consequent voting pattern are even higher in communities close to proposed nuclear plants compared to the existing ones. This holds even after taking into account local, regional and political features and several municipality characteristics which may influence preferences over nuclear power.