The Instigator
baseballnut290
Pro (for)
Tied
15 Points
The Contender
DreamingBearcat
Con (against)
Tied
15 Points

The United States should significantly expand its use of nuclear power

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,122 times Debate No: 735
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (10)

 

baseballnut290

Pro

Nuclear power is...

1. A very clean energy source
No waste is released into the environment. While there is a small amount of waste, it is contained and not released into the air or water.
A typical 1000-megawatt coal-burning plant emits 100,000 tons of sulphur dioxide, 75,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 5000 tons of fly ash into the environment per year while a typical 1000-megawatt oil-burning plant emits about 16,000 tons of sulphur dioxide and 20,000 tons of nitrogen oxides.
Producing nuclear power does not release carbon dioxide into the environment—so it doesn't contribute to global warming.

2. Very Economical
Nuclear power produces a huge amount of energy from a small amount of fuel. Uranium, the fuel used in nuclear power plants exist in abundant supply although it is technically non-renewable. At the beginning of 2005, the global uranium reserve was estimated at 4.7 tonnes (equivalent to 28 billion tonnes of hard coal when used in light water reactors). The price is very cheap, unlike for fossil fuels where the supply is finite and slowly diminishing. A typical fuel pellet cost about $7. This one fuel pellet has an equivalent energy of three barrels of oil, which cost $84, or one ton of coal, which cost $29. In 1993, the fossil fuels displaced by nuclear energy totaled: 470 million tons of coal and 96 million barrels of oil which translated to about $17 billion. By using nuclear energy at $7 per pellet, a savings of about $13 billion was generated in just one year. 2 uranium pellets the sizes of peas are the driving force behind the most powerful aircraft carriers in the world, the Nimitz-class carriers. They last for 20 years before they need to be replaced. Each Nimitz-class carrier is the equivalent of a city the size of Los Angeles in terms of power usage.

3. Very safe
No other industry has invested so much time and money in the safety aspect of their business than has the nuclear industry. Over half the initial capital investment goes into the safety system of a nuclear power plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission enforces nuclear power plants to abide by certain standards set by the government to protect the health and safety of the public. Breaking any of their rules results in a huge fine or shutdown of the plant, thus most nuclear power plants are maintained with extreme care. The little waste that nuclear power actually produces is contained. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were over 20 years ago. Safety designs have improved greatly because of those two accidents. 1000 deaths in next 50 yrs because of Chernobyl, 1000 deaths per year because of black lung (coal). The amount of radiation emitted from the Three Mile Island accident was less than the amount of radiation released daily by one wristwatch.
DreamingBearcat

Con

I will deal with Baseballnut's first and third arguments in much more depth during my case, so I will start by rebutting his second argument.

Nuclear power is not cheap. While uranium is cheap compared to coal or oil, there are many other costs associated with nuclear power plants. Of all practical power plants, nuclear ones have the highest start-up costs, insurance costs, maintenance costs.

There is also no guarantee that uranium will remain inexpensive. Currently, very few countries use large amounts of uranium; should the U.S. significantly expand nuclear power use, the cost will necessarily rise with the increase in demand.

Supply of uranium has been extremely unstable as well. Devastating floods have recently made several of the largest uranium mines unusable for at least several more years, and since uranium mining is "dirty," as I will talk about later, the "not in my back yard" phenomenon will likely prevent opening new mines, the supply will be constrained. Moreover, nearly half of all uranium currently used in power plants comes from decommissioned warheads, which, at the current rate of consumption, will be depleted by 2015, much sooner if more plants were built. The price of uranium has already more than quadrupled since 2005.

My case is as follows:
1. Nuclear power leads to environmental degradation.
The first problem is mining uranium. Even the richest uranium mines have very low concentrations. Thus, there are only a few practical ways to get usable amounts of the metal. The fist is open pit mining, where massive pits are dug into the ground and the stone is processed. Aside from the fact that pit mines are an eye sore, water is used to keep uranium dust from floating around in the air. Unfortunately, this leads to contamination of ground water. As well, the overburden (the non-usable rock excavated from the pit) is usually radioactive itself and can seep into ground water or produce radon, a radioactive gas. The other method of uranium mining is leaching, where a weak acid or base is pumped into the uranium ore to extract the uranium. For obvious reasons, it's a very bad thing when the acid/base leaks into the ground water.

The second environmental program is disposal of the 30 tons of waste produced by each plant every year. Once the fuel has been used up, it must be stored for literally tens of thousands of years because the uranium is converted (in part) to plutonium or curium, which remain dangerously radioactive. Should this leak into ground water the results would be disastrous. In particular, the storage facility in Yucca mountain is vulnerable to earthquakes, which would almost certainly release the waste into ground water.

2. Nuclear power leads to health hazards that specifically harm the poor.
This is a simple one. Power plants, storage facilities, and mines are built near poor communities and in poor countries because the wealthy can lobby against them and the poor cannot. This is fundamentally unfair and antithetical to the goals of democracy, liberalism, Christianity, Judaism, and just about every philosophical or political system other than fascism.

3. Nuclear power has safety risks unlike any other power source.
While it is true that there have been few (but not no) disasters since Chernobyl, there is still the risk of catastrophe. Aside from human error leading to meltdown, there is a real risk of terrorism. Because there are few nuclear power plants in the U.S., there are few trucks or trains carrying uranium. With an increase in nuclear power use, there would be an increase in uranium transport. I'll leave it to you to imagine what would happen if one of these were hijacked or bombed on a major highway.

4. There are far better alternatives.
If nuclear power were the only way to reduce CO2 emissions by power plants, I would support it. However, there are many better ways. Solar panels are rapidly becoming more efficient, to the point that one can power a house with a small array even in the Pacific Northwest, where I live (one of the cloudiest places in the US. Wind, geothermal, tidal, and hydroelectric also offer the same energy potential with the same reduction in CO2 and fewer risks.
Debate Round No. 1
baseballnut290

Pro

baseballnut290 forfeited this round.
DreamingBearcat

Con

Since Baseballnut didn't respond, I'm not going to bother rehashing my arguments. Closing statements?
Debate Round No. 2
baseballnut290

Pro

baseballnut290 forfeited this round.
DreamingBearcat

Con

DreamingBearcat forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by WitchyWoman 9 years ago
WitchyWoman
Solarman, hopeless liberal is an OXYMORON, as is hopeful conservative. Nice job DreamingBearcat, too bad the debate was dropped by Baseballnut--I would have liked to have seen some discussion on whether the increased demand for uranium caused by new nuclear power plants could help bring in loose nukes from the black market...what is your take on this?... Baseballnut?
Posted by Stephmom 9 years ago
Stephmom
Very clear, concise case, Bearcat. Solarman, good luck w/ challenging Bearcat; I've seen that scene and the floor has already been cleaned by your butt. Baseballnut, most of your points are well-taken, but your conclusion does not follow. More nuclear power plants will take the pressure off for finding and using alternative sources of energy that are true solutions.
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
Bearcat you are a hopeless liberal

I will challenge you to a debate on this and wipe the floor with you

Nuclear power is my competition, but we need it

Solarman
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Derek.Gunn 8 years ago
Derek.Gunn
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Vote Placed by Yraelz 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Tatarize 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by WitchyWoman 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Stephmom 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Greylance 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by adamh 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by hjfrutwiufy 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by DreamingBearcat 9 years ago
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