The Nuke story our excited friend? was talkimng about : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. nuclear power industry is ill-prepared for the year 2000 computer bug, which could disrupt the delivery of electricity needed to cool reactors and avoid meltdowns, experts warned Monday.

The warning came amid concern that the nuclear sector may not be as far along as other U.S. industries in preparing its computerized operations for the turn of the century.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needed to be more aggressive in dealing with the computer problem's potential effect on the nation's electricity grid and its nuclear power-plant infrastructure.

``The NRC needs to ensure that reliable backup power sources will be available for all of the reactors that are operating when the millennium arrives,'' the Massachusetts Democrat told a Congressional symposium on Y2K nuclear threats.

The millennium problem arises because many older computers record dates using only the last two digits of the year. If left uncorrected, such systems could treat the year 2000 as the year 1900, generating errors or system crashes next Jan. 1.

Normally, reactors are connected to the larger electrical grid, which brings in the necessary power for cooling. The NRC requires every reactor to have on site at least two diesel-powered generators to provide emergency power in case of failure.

But some experts at the symposium questioned the reliability of the backup generators in the face of Y2K-induced power shortages.

``It is imperative that this issue is addressed at this very critical time frame,'' Paul Gunter, director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service's Reactor Watchdog Project, told reporters at a news conference.

He added the NRC should be more stringent in setting Y2K standards, especially in light of a November audit of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, reactor, which found 12 safety-related systems affected by the Y2K bug.

``They have to draw a line of nuclear safety and shut down any plant that crosses the line,'' Gunter said.

However, Steven Unglesbee, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said nuclear power plants have been working with the NRC on a standard industry approach to potential Y2K problems for the past three years.

Plants have multiple safety systems, in addition to the diesel generators, and reactor controls respond to conditions within the reactor itself that have nothing to do with the computer, Unglesbee said.

``We're confident that the power plants will enter the next century generating electricity at the same safe levels they do today,'' he said. ``When the clock strikes midnight, they will be as safe as they are now.''

Western analysts have been more concerned about Russia's nuclear plants, which have lagged behind the United States in Y2K preparations.

Last week, an independent Ukraine power expert said that all five of the Ukraine's aging nuclear power plants could be paralyzed when the clock ticks into the next century.

The world's worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986 when Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, spewing a cloud of radioactive dust over Russia and parts of Western Europe.

-- Online2Much (, March 08, 1999


also from euy2k....

NRC Audit of Waterford 3 unit, Louisiana.

asked in the Electric Utilities and Y2K Q&A Forum

Schedule slippages, insufficient "flexibility" stated, but a revised schedule and additional resources will be used. From the Executive Summary of the Waterford Audit:

"The licensee began the formal W3 Y2K readiness program in June 1997, and finished the plant inventory and initial assessment phase in May 1998. The detailed assessment phase for systems and components that are mission critical is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 1998. Confirmatory testing of mission critical systems for Y2K readiness is conducted by the licensee at the plant site. Remediation of mission critical systems has begun. No Y2K problems have been identified in safety-related systems to date."

"The Entergy Global Year 2000 policy requires that all Mission Critical asset work projects be completed by December 31, 1998, and the work projects for Important assets be completed by June 30, 1999. However, the audit team noted that, of the 8 Mission Critical application software items, 4 will be completed in April 1999, and of the 275 Mission Critical embedded items in 25 work projects, 8 work projects are scheduled for completion by June 1999. Thus, the initially established deadline for the Mission Critical assets will not be met at W3, and this may impact the deadline for completing the Important asset work projects. Additionally, there does not appear to be sufficient flexibility in the schedules to account for unforseen delays in completing the work projects."

"To address the above schedule conflict, the licensee established a revised schedule for Y2K readiness of mission critical and important system projects by June 30, 1999. The audit team believes that, with the additional resources the licensee plans to obtain in the immediate future, the above Y2K readiness schedule appears to be achievable. This conclusion is based on the expertise and experience of the present W3 Y2K project team members, support from management, and support available via information sharing and interactions with EPRI, other licensees, the Combustion Engineering Owners Group (CEOG), plant vendors, the Southeast Electricity Reliability Council, and the North American Electric Reliability Council."

-- Bonnie Camp (, March 08, 1999

-- Online2Much (, March 08, 1999.

Thanks Online2Much! (And our excited friend!)

Looks like it's gonna get stickier before it comes unglued.


-- Diane J. Squire (, March 08, 1999.

NIRS propaganda again - ignore it.

Hmmm. Notice their start time, assistance from other user groups, and attention to the critical systems by senior management (and the regulatory agency) in the second story? Notice the schedule slip anyway? Notice the money they are spending - to keep running next year?

Notice - no fossil-fueled plant is doing this level of testing and repair with this visibility? (They might be doing it - but if so, it's well hidden publicly...)

But every steam plant has similar control and programming problems to this nuclear one: steam, feed, temperatures, recording devices, monitors, regulators, make-up water, generators, power, H2 streams, cooling water, .....

Again people, ignore the press releases from the NIRS.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 08, 1999.

Hey Robert,

I like reading your posts sometimes and you seem like a really nice guy, but you need to think about the implications of radiation, and imagine what it would do. We are Americans and we can figure out a beteer way, this is what we are good for.

-- CONCERNED (, March 08, 1999.

I've studied it, written papers about it, photographed it, been photographed by it, taken classes in it, been exposed to it, cleaned it up, prevented it, minimized it, used it, and surveyed it. I've lived with, in it, and around it.

I never, ever, trivialize it - I respect it, but a commercial pilot gets more exposure (from cosmic radiation) per year from flying than I ever got building, running, repairing and dismantling nuclear power plants. On a surface vessel - the commanding officer and exec. officer -standing duty higher in the ship and so with less steel between them and the universe - often get more radiation than I got standing watch lower in the ship - below the steel and closer to the reactor.

But he isn't measured. He's exposed, but not measured.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 08, 1999.

What in the world has happened to the wheat to chaff ratio here in the last week? argh....

Experts = NIRC? NOT!

Chernobyl was NOT a nuclear power plant, it was not built for that, it was not designed with that in mind. Chernobyl was designed and built, as all reactors of that type were designed, to produce weapons grade plutonium. With the waste heat from plutonium production they produced power. A normal nuclear power plant's waste plutonium is totally unsuitable for bomb production as it contains three isotopes of plutonium that "poisons" the one bomb capable plutonium due to the fact that the neutron energy level has to be moderated to make weapons grade plutonium and this does not exist in a power style reactor.

So anytime somebody calls Chernobyl a power reactor, you know they haven't done their homework.

Most people don't realize that a coal fired power plant releases vastly more radiation into the air than a nuclear power plant. Sheesh...

When preparing for Y2K one needs to prepare for real possibilities, not fairy tales.

-- Ken Seger (, March 08, 1999.

I'm sorry, Ken ,but the reason you can't back-up your wild claim that Chernobyl was not a nuclear power plant is because none exist in a reliable source. You and you're pencil-neck geek friends at the nuclear power plant have invented what is called a myth. If you can't prove it, don't say it here.

-- CONCERNED (, March 08, 1999.

What? Your emotions (rage, fear, hyperbola's, ?) are clouding your thoughts - certainly they are confusing your words beyond clarity.

His description is fundamently correct - the design of those plants is specifically intended to maximize the production of Pu239 for later separation (at the site) for weapons production. Yes - they were making Pu to put in nuclear bombs to drop on our heads. Chernobyl was a large combined plant around a central "hall" - the other reactors are still on-line now by the way - creating as he pointed out, power and heating from the by-products of the Pu production for use in the nearby shops, villages, and factories.

I beleive a very few of our older weapons plants are using similar nuclear physics designs - its a matter of placing the core, fuel elements, and cooling channels and cooling medium, selection of moderator and design of the poisons and control rods - plus a few other things like geometry and enrichment and operating temperature - but ours are separated from the public by several dozen miles of wilderness, and behind pressure proof enclosures to eliminate the possibility of release if an accident occurs. Our plants, by the way, are shut down now.

Their's? The steam explosion from the reactivity accident caused by improper (illegal, unathorized, unsupervised) testing exposed high temperature carbon to burn - carbon empregnated with Pu, U, and billions of billions of Curies of decay products was released directly to the atmosphere - and the flames which promptly burned in air spread the residue higher.

Please, remember in your prayers the helicopter pilots and firefighters who gave up their lives dumping sand and concrete on the fire to shield it and put out the flames - they were true heroes we have much to be thankful for.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 08, 1999.

Unfortunately, Robert, some of these folks aren't gonna be satisfied even if we give them links to the design docs (most public anyway) for the GE and Gen Dyn (I think) vs the Sov units.


-- Chuck, night driver (, March 08, 1999.

Lessee... Three Mile Island, Karen Silkwood, various radiation releases downplayed... why should I believe ANYTHING a nuclear engineer, or for that matter anyone associated with the nuclear power industry says regarding the safety of nuclear plants?

Does the phrase "conflict of interest" ring a bell?

-- A (e@,.,), March 08, 1999.

Make that oatmeal with raisins.

Okay, Three Mile Island. Look up how many curies were released at TMI. If that number isn't interesting enough you can always list the release in bequerals. Please note that the amount of radiation one would have recieved if one were standing at the TMI property line downwind during the entire incident would be less than flying from TMI to Wash. D.C. to testify how terrible frightening the whole thing was.

Karen Silkwood. I don't know that much about that other than the radiation source that was alleged to come from her urine, was from a solid that was insoluable in water (or urine). That might be a case of the 60's Watts riots as described by a journalist, "I wanted to find out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys and I couldn't find any good guys".

Q: Would you trust a person that works in the coal fired plants about the safety of the coal fired plants? Ditto this to hydro, solar, and geothermal.

-- Ken Seger (, March 08, 1999.

CONCERNED has every right to be concerned. Commercial Nuclear Power was not well thought out from the very beginning. We still do not know how and where we are going to store our radioactive waste, some of which will be deadly for millions of years. And the ensuing chaos of y2k is going to make maintenance of aging reactors, even the ones that have been remediated, a very risky proposition.

-- a (a@a.a), March 08, 1999.

hard to please, ain't they?

If you know what you're talking about, you have a conflict of interest, and are not trustworthy. If you don't, but have a big soapbox to satnd on, and a loud voice to repeat it with into a microphone held by an actually "prejudiced" but unfortunately unknowing press corps, you can get all the spectators you want. Still don't have a valid message, but .....

Yep, I know - I see the exact parallels - except that I'm apparently somewhat more personally knowledgeable in the subject matter; are (I hope) honest enough to present the case and recognize its strengths and weaknesses based on real data, not half-truths and spin's; and (I hope) are honest enough to present and discuss an honest case from a technical standpoint - not based on political truths that are derived from "hopes" and "wanna-be's" and "oughta-be's" made for a political front.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 08, 1999.

They're getting boring Bob.

At the risk of falling asleep at the keyboard I'll just mention in passing that the French that have a much higher dependance on nuclear for their power have solved the nuclear waste problem from their nuclear power plants. Apparently the only reason we can't do the same is either our cars are weird enough (ever worked on Citroen?), we don't eat enough brie, or we don't have honest politicians.

I still haven't figured out how stuff that is harmfull for a given # of years is worse than something that is harmfull for infinity (lead, cadmium, berylium, aluminum, etc.). Nighty night.

-- Ken Seger (, March 08, 1999.

Don't meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and taste good.

I shall pass sir Robert the salt and pepper.

-- Dilbert (, March 08, 1999.

Cocksure, arrogant, holier than thou attitudes is what got us in this y2k predicament in the first place (cf. PNG's Challenger and thermodynamics essay).

My advice to the technical sages of this forum (of which I consider myself one) is to be humble now, or prepare to be humbled by the events that will soon unfold.

-- a (a@a.a), March 09, 1999.

'Tis true - but these guys are not NASA bureacratic political types - they got fired a long time ago.

The PE means professional sir. They take it very professionally.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 09, 1999.

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