The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
Me100
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

A Chernobyl-type nuclear power accident cannot happen in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,980 times Debate No: 7849
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (6)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

There is renewed interest, and actual progress, in building new nuclear power plants in the United States. http://www.delawareonline.com... A news broadcast last nigh covered plans to build a new plant near existing ones on the Chesapeake Bay. The broadcasters provided an opportunity for a certified moron from the Union of Concerned Scientists to opine that such a power plant could produce an incident like Chernobyl. He specifically claimed that a loss of coolant would result in a spread of nuclear material just like Chernobyl. This claim is nonsense.

"How Stuff Works" provides an overview of plant operation. "Chernobyl was poorly designed and improperly operated. While the plant required constant human attention to keep the reactor from malfunctioning, modern plants require constant supervision to keep from shutting down." http://science.howstuffworks.com...

Nuclear reactors require a "moderator" to slow down neutrons to sustain a chain reaction. "Commonly used moderators include regular (light) water (75% of the world's reactors), solid graphite (20% of reactors) and heavy water (5% of reactors)." http://en.wikipedia.org...

In Chernobyl, graphite was used as the moderator. A coolant loss due to operator error caused the reactor to overheat. The heat distorted the mechanical structure making it impossible to reinsert control rods to shut down the reactor. Ultimately the heat caused the graphite to catch fire. Chernobyl had no containment vessel, so the radioactive smoke escaped and carried the radioactive material to the surrounding population.

"There are two types of reactors used in the U.S. for the production of electricity: the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) and the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). Both of these types use ordinary water as both coolant and moderator and therefore are known as Light Water Reactors (LWR)." http://users.owt.com... The article provides a detailed analysis of why a Chernobyl-style accident cannot occur in the U.S.

In a US reactor a coolant loss automatically shuts down the reactor's chain reaction and automatically limits the consequences of the accident. There is no graphite or other combustible material in the reactor, so there is nothing to catch fire. The severe consequences of Chernobyl were mainly a result of the smoke distributing the radioactive material. This cannot happen without smoke, and with nothing to burn there cannot be smoke.

The Three Mile Island nuclear accident was close to the worst possible accident with a US-style reactor. Due to mechanical failure and operator error there was a coolant loss. Loss of the water shut down the chain reaction, however the fuel is nonetheless radioactive, and it gets hot. There was a small escape of radioactive steam, but no one was injured.

If a large aircraft crashed into a US nuclear plant, it's extremely unlikely that the containment would be breached. The outer shell is four feet of special high density concrete reinforced with 2.5 diameter steel rebar. Inside the shell are two concentric steel containment vessels. However, even if the containment were cracked and coolant lost, the reactor would still automatically shut down. The breach in the containment vessel would allow more steam to escape, but it would be nothing like a Chernobyl accident.

It is impossible for any nuclear power plant to create a nuclear explosion because the radioactive material in the fuel is not concentrated enough to reach critical mass.

A nuclear accident like Chernobyl is not possible in the United States.
Me100

Con

Thanks for posting this debate,
Right now i will show you why you should vote con, and the reason why my opponents case, is flawed

First are definitions:
1)Accident: An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm.
2)Cannot: The negative form of can1.
3)Happen: 1.a. To come to pass. b. To come into being. 2. To take place or occur by chance.

I will use the value of Chance, and that anything is possible.
I support my value with Error, that nothing can be perfect.

Now about my opponents case.
His main points basically are 1)Technological improvement (2) Human supervision.
And he supports this with a lots of evidence about how bad Chernobyl is and why we are preventing this with the betterment of technology.

So I will argue in the context of the resolution "A Chernobyl-type nuclear power accident cannot happen in the United States." I agree with my opponent that a Chernobyl-like accident is not "likely" to happen, But what my opponent fails to prove is whether a accident that is as devastating can NEVER happen in the United States. And that you should vote con for the reason that an accident like Chernobyl like accident can happen even though it's not likely.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

I wish Con well in his future career as a lawyer.

1. The verb "can" is in the present tense. http://www.thefreedictionary.com... Therefore the "cannot" is in the present tense as well. Therefore the resolution is posed in the present tense, and since the their are no Chernobyl-type reactors in the United States, the resolution is correctly affirmed.

2. Straining to find a meaning of the resolution contrary to obvious intended meaning is a waste of my time and of the time of everyone on the site who would like to see a real debate. Therefore it is poor conduct.

3. Since the Union of concerned Scientists guy was obviously serious, Con effectively blocked the possibility of a serious debate. That is poor conduct.
Me100

Con

If you wish to post a serious debate then post a serios resolution. If you are trying to argue that there are no RBMK reactors located in United States, therefore we cannot have a Chernobyl-type accident then of course the votes go to you. The resolution does not state whether the accident happen in the past, present or the future.

This Resolution is Flawed in the case that if my opponent wills that it be interpreted his way, then there is no reason to debate.
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

It is widely believed that a Chernobyl-type accident can occur with any nuclear reactor. That's what the Union of concerned Scientist guy was claiming, and he got on television as being some sort of authority on the subject. Its part of the superstitious bad science that abounds. Only by reading the reference I provided along with my arguments does one conclude that it is not possible without a Chernobyl type reactor. If the facts were correctly understood, we would have a lot more nuclear power plants, but superstition prevails. That's what makes it a serious debate topic. Having made the reference to reactor types, there was no need for me to repeat the argument.

Many words in English have multiple meanings. For example, the word "set" has over a hundred meanings. the multiple meanings allows a debater who wishes to do so to select word meanings from a dictionary to deliberately misinterpret the resolution and attempt to win based upon his faulty interpretation.

The common sense interpretation of the resolution should always prevail over the strained interpretation. In this case it was clear by reading the opening statement I was arguing that water-moderated reactors without graphite cannot have a Chernobyl-style accident. I expected that an opponent would propose some weird scenario, I don't know what, whereby a very serious accident could occur and be deemed "Chernobyl-like." I don't know of any such hypothetical scenarios, but the purpose of a debate is to see if any opponent can come up with one.
Me100

Con

Yes I agree with you to a degree, that we are debating that a nuclear reactor can have a Chernobyl-like accident, and that what I'm saying is that there will, or will not be one.

http://www.time.com...
There is always the possibility of a Chernobyl-type accident. No matter how good technology is, there is always room for error, sabotage perhaps.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Hands up to CON for using shrewd semantics.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
I like the reference that Con came up with: "The probability of any conventional water-cooled reactor's having an accident in any given year that might kill 1,000 people, the researchers reckon, is about the same as that of a meteor's striking a U.S. population center and killing 1,000 people—1 chance in 1 million." Chernobyl was a 20,000+ accident. The article was from 1974, so I suspect the odds have dropped with improvements in reactor technology.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
And this debate had so much potential...I literally have a word doc open right now with some very interesting info, but nothing near a case yet.

The sad thing is that this is NOT what LDV looks like. Good LDV debaters don't pull this crap. I love the LDV format, but I dislike bastardizations of it, esp. when your topic clearly has so little to do with any value structure. It doesn't even fit right...

I hope you have a discerning debater accept your next one. I suppose my first posted debate here has me spoiled :D
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
Clockwork
Short of the age restrictions and the "equal or better" requirement, which are both pretty poor, partly because the latter leaves you with about 8 people to debate with...

It's almost a pattern. Your debates are intimidating to the point that many people with common sense are wary of accepting, and a person who is more... reckless... beats us to the punch. Eh. The system needs work.

Then again, it may just be me, I'm fairly new to the site.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Anybody have an idea on how to avoid this nonsense? I systematically block debaters who enjoy killing topics, but new ones keep presenting themselves. It's a whack-a-mole game.
Posted by Clockwork 8 years ago
Clockwork
Oh God... The LD-drones are taking over the world...

*runs to bunker*
Posted by Me100 8 years ago
Me100
whatever i'm accepting..
Posted by Me100 8 years ago
Me100
i would debate you but i feel that to argue a certain type of accident happening is kind of.. stupid.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I'll need to brush up on my nuclear reactor facts... :)
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Me100 8 years ago
Me100
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Vote Placed by kevsext 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by alto2osu 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by trendem 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by LB628 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 8 years ago
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