The Instigator
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3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Beginner's Tournament, Nuclear Power Plants

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,555 times Debate No: 84530
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (1)




No forfeits
No kritiks
BoP is shared
Citations can be in comments
R1 Statements
R2 Rebuttals
R3 Rebuttals and Summary

Definition: A nuclear power plant is a facility that converts atomic energy into usable power. In a nuclear electric power plant, heat produced by a reactor is generally used to drive a turbine which in turn drives an electric generator.

Resolution: Nuclear power plants are not cost effective, pose risk to the populations in the event of accident and from power plant waste products.

Cost: There are 435 nuclear power plants in the world, with the average age of 25 years in operation [1]. 75% of the plants in Europe are half way through their operating lifespan. Of the 104 in the US one half are over 30 years old, the rest 20 years in operation [2].

In the US, there is a high cost affiliated in keeping these aging plants running. Many are being decommissioned as a result; before the end of their expected life span of 40 years. It takes several decades to decommission a nuclear power plant. In light of these financial considerations, along with the cost of new construction, even with new technologies, outcomes are predicted to be similar. The investment is not cost effective [4].

With the down trend in natural gas prices and declining costs of alternative energy, nuclear power is no longer competitive in pricing per megawatt-hour [3].

Citing only 3 of the more recent nuclear power plant accidents and their cost:

• 2011 Fukushima Daiichi, 30 billion dollars in has been paid out in compensation to evacuees for loss wages; pain & suffering, and property contamination; 207 billion in decommission costs [5]. Full cost effect over long term has yet to be determined.
• 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, 15 billion to shelter the plant, 2.2 billion for infrastructure to maintain [6], Economic Damages 500 billion [7].
• 1979 Three Mile Island plant, Pennsylvania, 973 million [8].

These are cost are affiliated directly by accidents and do not include individual cost of the aftermaths such as cancer rates or relocation expenses not covered by nuclear, property or home owner insurance.

Dangers & Wastes: Since 1952 there have been 32 nuclear power plant accidents [9]. With the ageing of Nuclear power plants combined with weather pattern changes and a better understanding of seismic activity, nuclear power plants and their waste products pose a risk.
The decommissioning of Nuclear power plants and what to do with the radioactive bi-products of active plants has been unresolved since the 1980’s in the US. Currently, the nuclear wastes are stored on plant sites [10]. Waste storage is in the form of pools or dry casks which are now, or will soon to be at full capacity [11].

From 1999 through 2014 a number of reports and filings have been conducted with regards to pool storage and dry casts not meeting NEPA and AEA standards with no resolution yet made. Essentially this is a ticking time bomb where spontaneous combustion or melt down in storage pools, as well as land contamination from dry cast storage is at a breaking point [12, 13].


Before I make my case, lets begin by a few rebuttal:

1. Our opponent has stated that nuclear power is not cost-effective.But according to UK Electricity Generation Summary, we need to pay for 96.5 pounds for 1 megawatts of energy generated by coal, while 93.4 pounds for 1 megawatt of energy produced by uranium(i.e. nuclear energy)[1]. Thus, we can see that nuclear power plant is the cheapest one for generating electricity.

2.Our opponent has exaggerated the health effects of using nuclear plants.Although these are accidents, but according to Clean Air Task Force, nearly 12,000 deaths in the USA only are accounted to coal-fired power stations.[2] Can our dear opponent tell us that these 12,000 peoples' lives don't matter?

Nuclear power is safe, stable and superior.

I will tell you that nuclear power generation is a must in our advanced society in this round; stating that nuclear power plant is safer than most generation method and we cannot use alternatives to power our world in round 2, and then conclude our case in Round 3.

Nuclear power is safe, stable and superior. Nuclear energy today is well-developed, and it is cleaner, more stable than the other electricity generation methods.

Clean: Nuclear fuels are technically infinite and it don't produce harmful gases into the atmosphere we live in.[3]It is also producing the least harmful by-products to us[4]. Comparing to fossil fuels, which gives out lots of harmful gases and greenhouse gases, is a better one to choose. In normal operation, nuclear power plants don't ever injure a person, but in fossil fuel plants, it is annually killing 12,000 persons only in USA[1]. Can our opponent neglect the harmful effects that fossil fuels have brought to us?

Stable: Nuclear fuel is currently supplying countries with nuclear plants continuous power. This is different with other renewable energy, as renewable energy only produce energy when the specific weather demands for it is accomplished, for example, you cannot produce solar power when it is raining. Can our opponent imagine that in a hospital, patients are dying just because it's raining and solar power plants cannot produce energy? Thus, we need nuclear power to keep up with our energy demands; nuclear power is currently holding 10.8% of the power grid,[5] and is projected to expand. Why is it so? Because countries need it!

Dear opponent, if you cannot give me concrete examples of how nuclear energy can be replaced, then this motion must stand.

Nuclear power is safe, stable and superior.This motion must stand, thank you!

Debate Round No. 1


1. Rebuttal Cost: (#1 citation bad link).Inability to review figures provided.
Analysis of nuclear power in 2013 for plants operational by 2020 [1] with total system cost associated is 95.2 MWh. But this is the price after tax credits are awarded which is $18/MWh, a production credit. This brings the costs to 113.2 MWh. Due to exorbitant upfront cost of construction and financing for a 1GW plant, the end cost of a 40 yr loan brings construction costs to 17 billion dollars. Even though the cost of nuclear fuel is substantially less expensive than fossil fuels, the upfront cost offsets this; resulting in nuclear power being substantially more expensive [2]. To further the point, in the US and Europe nuclear power plants have received substantial government subsidies [3, 4]. In The US 3.3 billion a year; with close to 330 million people in this country, that amounts to $100 per person/per year in tax dollars for every man woman and child. In the UK these subsides are so contentious they have been eliminated [6. p.17] In Germany, the unprofitability and significant cost of nuclear power has moved this country to phase out nuclear energy altogether by 2020 [7].

2. Rebuttal Dangers: (After searching the whole site provided, I think have found the correct article you referenced.) Certainly lives matter. But, also this article makes note that from 2004 to 2010 deaths related to conventional power plants are significantly less than before emission control technologies. Latest figures are at 7,500 [8] and more efficient emissions control tech is advancing every day. I do agree coal and gas fired plants are not good but, nuclear power is worse. 
If we are looking at a death affect, let’s look at the Chernobyl after math. The 830,000 of individuals who worked on the plant to extinguish the fire and cap the plant after the explosion are at a higher risk for leukemia. As of 2005, of these workers, 112,000 to 125,000 have died. Of 6.5 million people in the vicinity, children and teens have a 1 in 31 chance of developing thyroid cancer [9], 6,000 cases confirmed in Ukrainian, Belarus and Russian have been reported up to 2005 alone[10]. Global death toll from fallout from Chernobylas of 2005 is estimated to totaling 985,000.  
Since1986 healthy birth rates in the area went from 80% to 20%. We are looking at a second generation of after effects.
From the Fukushima Daiichi incident, cases of thyroid cancer are beginning to sprout up and are expected to continue for years to come [10] I ask you my respected opponent, do nearly a million lives matter?
Though the ratio to number of plants in years of operation to accidents appears low, and there seems to be an assumption that they are relatively safe. But, when an accident does occur the results are devastating. It affects human lives, land and animals for decades into the future. It is not worth the risk. If a fire occurs at a natural gas or coal facility its impacts are very local, affecting fewer lives with no long term human or environmental affects. 

A:Clean: Nuclear fuels are technically infinite and it does not produce harmful gases into the atmosphere we live in.”( #3, 4 & 5 citations bad links)
Though I could not view your sources, but let’s examine the environmental harmful gases produced. A nuclear plant while in operation has a near zero carbon emissions. What is involved in the life cycle of a nuclear power plant, construction, mining uranium, processing and transportation of radioactive bi-products and decommissioning of plants all has a carbon footprint associated. Nuclear power plant life cycle in emissions is at 66 gCO2e/kWh, which is lower than coal and natural gas. Although, nuclear power does throw off 2x as much in carbon in the form of solar photovoltaic at 32 gCO2e/kW. Wind farms off shore are only at 10 gCO2e/kWh [12]. With the extraordinary high cost of construction over alternative energies, even here the carbon footprint can be smaller. 
Yes, there is ample uranium, estimated to be about 250 years worth. But, uranium mining is hazardous to health. It is mostly done in open pit mines. Miners often suffer from lung cancer after breathing in uranium tailings. Mining activities contaminate the water table which has caused cancer in indigenous populations [13]; death and more death.
For the purpose of this debate I’m not required to prove that fossil fuels are bad or to suggest an alternative source of energy. I need only to prove that Nuclear Power plants are bad per my opening statement.



See comments;lt will be on at 1200-1300 GMT +8 , sorry
Debate Round No. 2


My respected opponent, thank you for continuing this debate

Rebuttal Renewables: It is true that power is not generated if there no sun or wind, but let's be real here. No one is going to die in a hospital when it rains or is calm because of no solar/wind power being generated at that moment. Both technologies have energy storage capacity. Again, I need not provide alternative sources for energy, only to prove nuclear is costly, and dangerous.

Looking at the article you cited #7, the author calculates death rates from start to finish of all types of energy sources; i.e. mining, construction, installation and particulate dispersion. Yes, coal has the highest death rates. Death rates for wind and solar power were attributed to installation and maintenance; falling off roof tops and wind towers. I find that lack of construction safety is not a direct factor to be considered, especially in light of long term affects of a radiation cloud contaminating everything in its path for decades. Chernobyl 1,004 square miles of inhabitable land that will remain so between 180 to 320 years [3], Fukushima 3,500 square miles of contamination [2]. Furthermore, there are no mining deaths associated with solar or wind. Also, the article states that coal emissions can be reduced to 99.5% efficiency with electrostatic precipitators if plant retrofits were done. China has 650 GWe and US 315 GWe coal fired output. It would cost 20 billion and 16 billion respectively for ALL these countries plants. In light of cost for a single 1 GW Nuclear power being $17 billion, where would you put your money?

The 0.04 figure you ascribe for nuclear power deaths is very misleading due to IAEA reporting of deaths are direct causal, i.e. calculated only during and shortly after a nuclear disaster, as well as data collected only in highly contaminated zones, excluding lesser contaminated areas. They do not report or add the latent death tolls accrued over the long term, decades [4, 5].

Rebuttal Safe & Stable: To repeat when a nuclear power plant accident does occur it very much does pollute the surrounding area for many decades. On top of the uninhabitable zone, the Chernobyl disaster cast its radioactive plumage over Eastern Europe, Finland and Sweden [6]. Upon review of your citation #8 [7] regarding radioactive fly ash from coal, this contamination is limited to one half mile to a mile of a coal stacks along with disposal sites, a relatively contained area in comparison to nuclear accident fallout. There is a serious issue on what to do with Fukushima’s decommissioning and what to do with the radioactive wastes; they still have not found the melted nuclear cores. There are no plans to remove the radioactive fuel until 2020 because the technology to do it safely does not yet exist. There seems to be a lot of placing carts before horses when it comes to Nuclear Power. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Prime Minister Noda both were against nuclear power expansion, with Noda planning to phase out nuclear power within 20 years [8].

Rebuttal 1. Cost: Using again your citation #1 [9], under Key Observations “Government incentives can change the relative costs of the generating technologies. For example, federal loan guarantees can turn nuclear power from a high cost technology to a relatively low cost option.” Please note can change and high cost technology. On p.17 “the costs of building a new nuclear plant in the United States will apparently be very high” and goes on to state later not only loan guarantees but, tax credits are needed. Continuing “If the plant is expensive, adding the return into rates as a single big adjustment can inflict “rate shock” on customers.” Also on p.77 “ Because it was not possible to extract the escalation costs from the project estimates, as a rough correction the financial model assumed no cost escalation to avoid a double count.” Cost overruns are persistent [10] and not included in this report. Then, let’s factor in those additional subsidies that go out every year, remember that 3.3 billion mentioned last round?

Rebuttal 2. Dangers: I have addressed the issue of disparity in reported death tolls. And yes, this type of reactor has been decommissioned, but what happened just in 2011 with Fukushima, a newer technology. Another such accident is pending due to sea level rise and storm surges with nuclear plants located near water for cooling purposes [11, 12] 2011 & 2015 data. Then there is the ever-present issue of nuclear waste storage [13]. Your citation #1 also states that no permanent solution for wastes has been determined. As well as now there are additional risks associated with now non-nuclear countries obtaining this technology; North Korea and Iran for example [14]. If a country can build a power plant they can also build a bomb. 16000 reactor-years of safety is brought to insignificance when just one accident occurs. Sweden, Austria, Germany, Denmark Greece Italy and a dozen additional countries are phasing out nuclear power as a result of past nuclear accidents.

Rebuttal 3 Clean: See rebuttal renewables & safe and stable

In summary: Without heavy government subsidies, production tax credits and loan guarantees from a government, nuclear power is far too costly against other power generating options. The lack of end result on what to do with radioactive wastes is and outstanding issue of concern. Despite the few number of accidents that have occurred, deaths and land contamination over long term has been devastating, more so than other energy sources. The issue of safety and fear of future accidents has resulted in more than a dozen countries choosing to discontinue their nuclear power programs. Proliferation of nuclear power extends to the issue of nuclear aggression. Citations in comments


Before I conclude the debate, let's begin with a few rebuttals:

1.Renewables: Our opponent has exaggerated the usefulness of energy storage.One of the most powerful energy storage projects today is projected to story 10.8MW of power[1], but this is just 0.05% of the world's total electricity consumption[2].So dear opponent, is your solution to the instability of renewable energy feasible?

2.Radioactivity: Our opponent has stated that the spills of the nuclear fallout bring long term effect to the residents there. But did our opponent consider that coal-fired power plants ALSO gives out radioactivity that is higher than the nuclear fallout?Coal ash, which accounts for 18 millirems, is higher than nuclear's one, which is 3-6 milirems[3].These coal ash poisons the water, kill fish and wildlife[4] and affects anybody residing nearby.Does my opponent considered the people living near coal power plants?

3.Safety: Our opponent has disregarded the good effects that nuclear power brings. As mentioned in the previous rounds, nuclear power improves our world by emitting no greenhouse gas and gas that are harmful to us.Should we disregard the good that nuclear brings by a single accident?Also, there are plans in USA, Finland, France, the UK to build more reactors and the proposed ones count for more than 300 reactors[5].These countries still build nuclear reactors after the accident you mentioned.These countries still build reactors because they know what these reactors will bring to their environment.Doesn't these counts?Also, according to the Nuclear Power Institute, nuclear power has met with one-third of the electricity consumption the world uses, but just produces the minimal waste compared to the fossil fuel powered generators. The total volume of nuclear waste produced since the nuclear power industry began is only enough to fill a football field to a depth of about 15 yards[6]. Thus, we can see that nuclear power is the best option.

4.Cost: Also according to the research you rebuttal last turn[7], we can see that the trend of coal-power power plants rises quick, but the nuclear one remained. The trend offsets the $3.3 billion you have mentioned above.Also, there are a $500 billion subsidies for coal powered plants[8].So, after factoring on these resources, I firmly believe that nuclear power is cheaper than coal-powered plants.

Nuclear energy is safe, stable and superior.

To conclude the debate, nuclear energy is safe, stable and superior.Nuclear power plants do not release harmful gas into the atmosphere, as said in the first round, and also do not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Using nuclear energy will give a better environment for our descendants. Also, as said in the second round, fossil-fuel powered power plants gives out greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and renewable energy is too unstable to be used. Does our opponent want to give a smoggy, uninhabitable planet to our descendant and gives the problem to them, or giving them a planet that is powered on sporadically?

Our opponent has not answered us that there are feasible plans to replace nuclear energy. Since the opponent cannot give us any, we can see that my opponent had based his reasoning on imaginary grounds.We can also see that there is no other alternatives from nuclear one as my opponent have not given me any alternatives that are better than nuclear energy.Thus, nuclear energy is better than any of every alternative, that is, nuclear energy is good and this motion must stand.

Nuclear energy is safe, stable and superior.This motion must stand.Thank you!

Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Death23 2 years ago
After going through the on cursory inspection, it seems very likely that you would have my vote. As my vote wouldn't alter the outcome of the debate, I see no reason to to vote and draft an RFD. If that changes, then I may come back to vote.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
>Reported vote: RainbowDash52// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 point to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: First of all, I am confused on why Con is arguing that the resolution is true while Pro is arguing that the resolution is false, but I will judge as if they were arguing for the correct side, So con must show that both nuclear power plants are not cost effective, and that nuclear power plants are dangerous. Both Con and Pro gave evidence for and against nuclear power being cost effective, but Con showed that because startup costs and government subsidies, nuclear power actually is not cost effective. For the ?pose risk to the populations? half of the debate, Con cites damages caused by nuclear power accidents. Pro argues that nuclear power is safer and better, but that is not part of the resolution. Con wins because he showed both that nuclear power plants are not cost effective, and that they are dangerous the public.

[*Reason for non-removal] The vote appears sufficient, examining arguments and rebuttals made by both sides and coming to a decision with those in mind.
Posted by Peepette 2 years ago
Death23: He didn't forfeit, so I'm okay with what occurred. Please give my opponent equal consideration and base voting on content not location, Thank you for asking.
Posted by Death23 2 years ago

Con's R2 args posted in comments; I typically do not consider comments unless consented to; R1 rules only permit cites, not args in comments; Do you consent to me considering Con's R2 args in comments when voting on this debate?
Posted by fire_wings 2 years ago
Good job! I will ask voters to vote for this.
Posted by sunnyau 2 years ago
(Continued,2) Renewable power generation is limited by the weather, as stated in the first round, for example, photovoltaic power generation cannot generate power in the rain, or wind power generator cannot generate power when there's no wind. Thus this will make a power grid instable. Imagine you are the patient that is dying because there is no sunlight and no wind. What will you feel?
Dear opponent, if you insist that we can use fossil fuel or renewable power to power the world, are you going to hand to your descendants a wasteland full of smog and greenhouse gas, uninhabitable or a world that the electricity goes on and off, things don't work?

Dear opponent, if you cannot give me concrete examples of how nuclear energy can be replaced, you cannot hold that nuclear energy is bad because you have nothing to replace nuclear energy(if is the best one available currently, you cannot give examples of how it can be replaced, else you can)! Thus if you cannot give me concrete examples of how nuclear energy can be replaced, this motion must fall.

Nuclear energy is safe,stable and superior.This motion must stand,thanks!
Posted by sunnyau 2 years ago
(Continued)But we cannot neglect that coal mining also produces greenhouse gas that is more harmful to the world-methane.[6]It has a 21 times higher global warming potential than carbon(i.e. 21 unit of carbon dioxide will heat up the world as 1 unit of methane).So, even uranium mining seems to make a bigger carbon footprint, the methane that is produced by mining of coal have a higher potential to heat up the world. Thus, we can see that coal mining is of a greater danger to our future generations. Dear opponent, would you make your generations to be born in a wasteland due to the mining and the burning of coal for power?

Now back to my case: Nuclear power is safe, stable and superior.

Nuclear power generation is safer than most generation methods. According to Next Big Future, the deaths arising from coal is 161 deaths per terawatt while the deaths accredited to nuclear power is 0.04 per terawatt.[7]This also shows that nuclear generation is safer than most generation methods. Also, nuclear power do not pollute the surroundings, as coal-fired power generators do. Fly ash, a by-product of generating power by burning coal, have been found to be more radioactive than nuclear waste.[8]

Nuclear power generation is a must. Nuclear power is more cleaner then other available fossil fuel power generation methods and is more stable than other renewable powers. As stated before, nuclear power don't produce harmful by-products as coal power plants do. Also it do not emit mush greenhouse gas as stated above. Thus, we can see that nuclear power generation is cleaner then fossil fuel power generation. (4000 characters, continued)

Posted by sunnyau 2 years ago
Before I make my case, lets begin with a few rebuttals:

1.Cost: Our opponent stated that the upfront cost, that is the overnight cost, offsets the difference of the cost between fossil fuel power plants and nuclear power plants. But according to the FAS, the overnight cost of nuclear power plant is approximately $3000 while the cost of a coal power plant is $3500[1].

2.Dangers: Our opponent have exaggerated the health effects once again. The figures that are used varies much, but according to a research done by the World Health Organization, just 4000 people have died from the Chernobyl accident directly and the cancer my opponent suggests on the residents have a 99% survival rate.[2]Moreover, this type of reactors have been all decommissioned. Also, the safety of the plants have been proved with 16000 reactor-years.[3]How can our opponent state that we should not use nuclear energy based on outdated data?

3.Clean: Nuclear power has been acclaimed as the cleanest energy which can continuously provide our world with electricity. In the life cycle and the burning period coal powered generators emit 145 times as much carbon dioxide for each kilowatt they produces. Nuclear power plants also do not release harmful gases into the atmosphere WE breathe, for example sulfur dioxide that leads to acid rain, nitrogen oxide that leads to smog, and particulates that causes asthma.[5] Would you like to suffer these diseases from using fossil fuels to power our world? My opponent have also stated that the mining of uranium releases carbon dioxide, and have many bad effects. (2000 characters, continued)

1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RainbowDash52 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: First of all, I am confused on why Con is arguing that the resolution is true while Pro is arguing that the resolution is false, but I will judge as if they were arguing for the correct side, So con must show that both nuclear power plants are not cost effective, and that nuclear power plants are dangerous. Both Con and Pro gave evidence for and against nuclear power being cost effective, but Con showed that because startup costs and government subsidies, nuclear power actually is not cost effective. For the ?pose risk to the populations? half of the debate, Con cites damages caused by nuclear power accidents. Pro argues that nuclear power is safer and better, but that is not part of the resolution. Con wins because he showed both that nuclear power plants are not cost effective, and that they are dangerous the public.