Even a small risk turns case and justifies voting neg
Koplow, United Nations Environment Programme's Working Group on Economic Instruments, MBA – Harvard, and Vancko, project manager – nuclear/climate @ UCS, ‘11
(Doug and Ellen, “Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies,” Union of Concerned Scientists, February)
Second, a single negative event can wipe out decades of gains. Although the risk of nuclear accidents in the United States is considered quite low, it is not zero.6 Plausible accident scenarios generate catastrophic damages, with corresponding levels of financial loss. This characteristic creates a large disconnect between private interests (which highlight an absence of catastrophic damages thus far) and public interests (which must consider the damage that would be caused in the case of even a moderate accident, as well as the inadequacy of financial assurance mechanisms or insurance-related price signals to address the challenge).
Unlike car accidents, where one event generally has no impact on the perceived risk to unrelated drivers or auto companies, risks in the nuclear sector are systemic. An accident anywhere in the world will cause politicians and plant neighbors everywhere to reassess the risks they face and question whether the oversight and financial assurance are sufficient. Generally, the cost implications of such inquiries will be negative for reactor owners.
All of these factors, in combination with a poor track record of financial performance on new plant construction, have led investors in nuclear power to demand much higher rates of return, to shift the risks to other parties, or to steer clear of the nuclear power sector entirely.7 These risks are real, and if they were visibly integrated into the nuclear cost structure, the resulting price signals would guide energy investment toward technologies that have more predictable and lower risk profiles.
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