Millennium bug may stop Ukraine nuke plants-expertgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
03/04 08:20 Millennium bug may stop Ukraine nuke plants-expert
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, March 4 (Reuters) - An independent Ukrainian nuclear power expert defied official complacency on Thursday, saying computers hit by the millennium bug might paralyse the ex-Soviet state's five nuclear power plants next year.
"We have to prepare for the worst in our nuclear energy sector, and this 'worst' might mean that all stations could stop simultaneously," Serhiy Parashin, head of the Energy and Information research centre, told at news conference.
"We have not yet received all information from our nuclear stations...but, unfortunately, have to say that Ukrainian energy authorities do not fully understand the problem," Parashin said.
The bug stems from the once-common practice of using only two digits for the year in computer program dates, like 99 for 1999.
That shortcut has the potential, when dates change in 2000, to confuse computers and microchips embedded in machines, causing them to reject data or not work at all.
Academician Olexander Parkhomenko, who is also a director of the state nuclear power agency Energoatom, told Reuters this week the bug would not affect Ukrainian nuclear plants because of their unsophisticated computer equipment.
"Fortunately, our nuclear energy sector is not fully computerised, and problems existing in the West are not relevant for us," Parkhomenko said.
But analysts argue that the country's electricity supply and generating systems would all collapse if three or more of Ukraine's five nuclear stations stopped.
Analysts say Ukraine operates more than 20,000 computerised information systems, and most of them have not been adapted to beat the Y2K bug.
Parashin, who is a former director of the troubled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, said the consequences of the bug problem could be "most unexpected", but did not elaborate.
Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in April 1986, spewing a cloud of poisonous radioactive dust over Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and parts of Western Europe in the world's worst civil nuclear disaster.
The memory of that catastrophe has bred fresh concerns about how immune the former Soviet republic's five ageing nuclear power stations will prove to the Y2K problem.
-- Ray (email@example.com), March 04, 1999
"We have not yet received all information from our nuclear stations...but, unfortunately, have to say that Ukrainian energy authorities do not fully understand the problem, Parashin said."
-- Deborah (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 04, 1999.