Monday, July 29, 2013

Ideas to Save Bankrupt Detroit: Nuclear Power Plant Factory and Obamacare

Whatever works, some may say.

First, Nuke for Detroit scheme. A little-known company called American Atomics has made an offer to Detroit:

American Atomics would like to extend an offer to the City of Detroit, one that will not only “save Detroit," but that will result in Detroit becoming the fastest growing city on earth in five years.

We are going to build the world’s largest factory and begin mass producing our HOPE 40 power plant on August 1, 2018. This 8 million square foot, 720 million cubic foot highly integrated manufacturing facility will create between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs within 10 years, most of which will be accessible to semi-skilled workers based on company provided job training.

Our headquarters operations will require a separate 600,000 square foot office and laboratory campus where about 2,000 of the world’s most talented nuclear science and engineering, marketing and management, and administrative and finance individuals will work each day. The factory complex will be on a 2,000 to 2,400 acre site. Our HQ campus will be on a 60 to 90 acre site.

Our plan includes developing a companion industrial park complex where our key suppliers will build dedicated facilities for servicing our operations, with this site being another 1,200 to 1,600 acres and expected to generate another 100,000 to 200,000 manufacturing and industrial services jobs.

...We will, of course, implement HOPE 40 provided power generation for our own usage and the use of the community where we reside. This means that local businesses will enjoy 2¢ per kilowatt-hour flat rate electricity pricing, with no limitation on capacity — given that we will scale the local generating capacity with as many HOPE 40 power plants as needed to service the demand.

...We would like to choose Detroit, as we can think of no finer demonstration of the power of cheap, clean electricity to fuel economic growth than to show what happens in a location so desperately needing an economic boost. ...

What is "HOPE 40 power plant"? It sounds like a small-scale nuclear power generating unit using liquid metal as coolant, i.e. fast breeder.

From American Atomics' mission statement page:

On August 1st, 2018 the world will fundamentally, radically change for the better. That's when we'll begin shipping our first mass production run of 1,000 HOPE 40 power plants — a self-contained, truck-shippable power generator system that can be quickly set up anywhere on earth and allow its owner-operator to begin profitably selling electricity for three cents per kWH or less.

...We're rebooting the Atoms For Peace initiative by choosing the other reactor science — the fast spectrum reactor — and pouring the collective resources of the world's largest commercial venture into its completion.

The company looks like a venture-funded start-up, based in Tennessee. There is no information of officers of the company, except that "We are a group of the leading nuclear scientists, engineers, technologists, and manufacturing experts on earth, utterly dedicated to our mission of solving humanity's energy problems." (from the company's website)

I have no idea whether this is some kind of joke or hoax, or the real thing. The blog where I got the link to the company notes:

"...the technology that the company plans to develop into mass produced small nuclear power plants uses liquid metal cooling, something that has not been used in commercial nuclear plants in the United States since Fermi 1"

Fermi 1 was the 94 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor that had a partial core melt in 1966.

If this "truck-shippable" mass-produced nuclear power generating unit is real, then move over Russians (who are building nuclear power generating ships)...

And Obamacare...

From New York Times (7/28/2013):

Detroit Looks to Health Law to Ease Costs

As Detroit enters the federal bankruptcy process, the city is proposing a controversial plan for paring some of the $5.7 billion it owes in retiree health costs: pushing many of those too young to qualify for Medicare out of city-run coverage and into the new insurance markets that will soon be operating under the Obama health care law.

Officials say the plan would be part of a broader effort to save Detroit tens of millions of dollars in health costs each year, a major element in a restructuring package that must be approved by a bankruptcy judge. It is being watched closely by municipal leaders around the nation, many of whom complain of mounting, unsustainable prices for the health care promised to retired city workers.

Similar proposals that could shift public sector retirees into the new insurance markets, called exchanges, are already being planned or contemplated in places like Chicago; Sheboygan County, Wis.; and Stockton, Calif. While large employers that eliminate health benefits for full-time workers can be penalized under the health care law, retirees are a different matter.

“There’s fear and panic about what this means,” said Michael Underwood, 62, who retired from the Chicago Police Department after 30 years and has diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. ...

...retirees say they worry about what the costs would actually amount to and whether the coverage would be as generous as some have received through city plans.

A 60-year-old single man with an income of $45,000 might have to pay $4,275 a year, or about 52 percent of his total annual premium, for a midpriced plan bought through an exchange, with the balance covered by the federal subsidies, according to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. A couple who are both 55 with a combined income of $60,000 might have to pay $5,700 a year, or 42 percent of their total premium. In both examples, additional out-of-pocket costs of up to $6,350 per person could apply, depending on how much medical care they needed.

(Full article at the link)

So the city retirees would be forced to spend nearly 10% of the income on so-called Obamacare plans, just like non-city workers elsewhere.


NY UltraBuddha said...

Love the way they leave out the word "nuclear". These small-scale reactors seem to be in vogue lately as a "safer" alternative. Yet are they really? A reactor is still a reactor. See this link about the problems with supposedly "safe" thorium mini-reactors.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good fact sheet on SMRs by Physicians for Social Responsibility:

Anonymous said...

looks like a pretty slim track record:

Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 25-apr-2013
Creation Date: 21-apr-2013
Expiration Date: 21-apr-2014

Anonymous said...

Seems like a good plan for the greedy. Go to all the most impoverished parts of a country and do the most insidious things there

Anonymous said...

NYT's headline should read 'Detroit Uses Health Law to Transfer Costs." It's employees' costs are transferred to both the retirees themselves and to taxpayers for the subsidy. There is no 'ease.'

Why go through the exchanges, electronic records, and insurers? What does the whole Obamacare hoopla add? All it does is protect profiteers. If the taxpayers are ultimately going to subsidize insurance policies to 'make them affordable,' why not cut out the middlemen and have single payer where the government as guaranteer of coverage also guarantees we pay only for the real cost of care?

Anonymous said...

So little information available about American Atomics. They say they're do-gooders, backed by "extremely wealthy backer-investors" (Billy Bob Gates?). They're here to help Detroit, since the original Fermi I didn't finish them off. Are they in anyway related to American Atomics Corporation who leaked tritium in Tuscon Arizona? Or is that a completely different company?

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