Chernobyl-style nuclear plants most vulnerable to Y2K bug, CIA says : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


-- Old Soviet-designed nuclear plants in Russia and Ukraine are the most vulnerable to potential year-2000 computer failures, particularly if combined with power losses, a CIA official said today.

These so-called Chernobyl-type reactors have ``inherent design problems,'' including lack of total containment systems, said Lawrence Gershwin, the CIA's national intelligence officer for science and technology.

``The chance of a nuclear incident in Russia, Ukraine or another state with Soviet-designed reactors during the Y2K rollover is low,'' Gerswhin told a congressional hearing.

``It is, however, higher than normal because of the likelihood that the power grid could experience failures. ... In the worst case, this could cause a meltdown and in some cases, an accompanying release of radioactive fission gases causing localized contamination.''

Still, Gershwin told the House International Relations Committee, the chance of a mishap on the scale of the 1986 accident at Chernobyl ``is extremely low.''

Gershwin said the CIA has determined that Russia, Ukraine, China and Indonesia are the major countries most likely to experience ``significant Y2K-related failures.''

Countries in Western Europe are better prepared, however Italy is not as far along as other major European countries. The CIA official said that Germany and Japan are making ``great strides,'' but that both economic powers got a late start and risk some failures.

Outside the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong have the lowest chances of experiencing significant problems, the CIA official said.

Gershwin told the panel that ``we are highly confident that Y2K failures will not lead to the inadvertent or unauthorized launch of a ballistic missile by any country.''

The committee is looking into potential disruptions abroad caused by Y2K problems, and their impact on the millions of Americans who are living or traveling overseas.

John O'Keefe, director of Y2K programs for the State Department, said the agency had inventoried 23,000 items in U.S. embassies and consulates in 164 nations to make sure they were all Y2K-compliant.

Each of these overseas posts are prepared to report to the State Department at one hour past midnight local time on Jan. 1 to relay information on any potential problems, O'Keefe said.

Many countries are lagging in their efforts, and electric power grids, telecommunications systems and the medical sector appear the most vulnerable, O'Keefe said.

``If you have to rely on medical-electrical devices, you better be careful where you travel to,'' the State Department official said.

The State Department has country-specific information on potential Y2K problems at its website

The Y2K problem is caused by computers that were programmed to read only the last two digits of a year. That could cause them to read the year 2000 as 1900, in some cases fouling up basic operations.

-- Mild Mannered Reporter (Clark@super.duper), October 21, 1999


hey Norm- welcome back!!

-- farmer (, October 22, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ