Beginner's Tournament, Nuclear Power Plants
Debate Rounds (3)
BoP is shared
Citations can be in comments
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 . 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 .
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 .
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 .
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 . 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 , Economic Damages 500 billion .
• 1979 Three Mile Island plant, Pennsylvania, 973 million .
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 . 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 . Waste storage is in the form of pools or dry casks which are now, or will soon to be at full capacity .
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].
5. http://www.world-nuclear.org... )
Before I make my case, lets begin by a few rebuttal:
1. Rebuttal Cost: (#1 citation bad link).Inability to review figures provided.
Analysis of nuclear power in 2013 for plants operational by 2020  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 . 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 .
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  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 , 6,000 cases confirmed in Ukrainian, Belarus and Russian have been reported up to 2005 alone. 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  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.
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 . 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 ; 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.
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 , Fukushima 3,500 square miles of contamination . 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 . Upon review of your citation #8  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 .
Rebuttal 1. Cost: Using again your citation #1 , 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  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 . 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 . 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 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RainbowDash52 9 months ago
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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.
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