What will happen to chemical plants?

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We live in an area surrounded by chemical plants. Does anyone have knowledge of how y2k will affect these plants? Will there be gas releases or worse?

Thanks, Susan

-- Susan (jclont@mastnet.net), May 13, 1998


Anything's possible. I'd not want to live near a chemicals plant even if Y2K wern't coming, because accidents of other sorts occasionally happen ...

However, IF the plant was engineered in the right way for a safety-critical system and its control programs written in the same way, then the plant will "fail safe", ie shut down rather than blow up. The big Y2K problem will be persuading it to produce again. That's where the biggest risk of disaster may lie: tired people doing unauthorised things with the safety systems (like disabling them).

-- Nigel Arnot (nra@maxwell.ph.kcl.ac.uk), May 14, 1998.

I work for a major chemical producer. Among the things we make are useful products which happen to be toxic, carcinogenic, etc. Although many might not believe it, we have a fierce dedication to environmental, health and safety. If the damn thing blows up WE will have to personally go in and fix it (we salute Chernobyl's firefighters) and our families will be sleeping nearby in their beds. We won't even think about the lawsuits. Our company has been aware of Y2K and its implications for quite a while and has been rapidly replacing legacy systems throughout our business. We have been testing and debugging; we have had our first plants on line with new systems for several months. The others are coming along nicely. Will it be done under budget? Probably not. Will it be 100% done and tested on time, probably. If not? Although nobody has really discussed it much in the context of Y2K, I have no doubt we will shut down rather than run something our plant operators (let alone our executives) consider unsafe. Thats our commitment anyway.

We are concerned about our suppliers, our customers, and the other systemic problems which can effect our business.

-- steve pettit (s._j._pettit@oxy.com), May 14, 1998.

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