White House Voices Y2K Fears Over Nuclear Plants

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From Tribune News Services

April 22, 1999

RUSSIA The White House expressed its most serious concerns to date Wednesday over anticipated year-2000 computer failures overseas, particularly among Russian-designed nuclear plants in nine countries.

In its latest report on the technology glitch, President Clinton's top Y2K expert, John Koskinen, said one of his greatest international concerns was ensuring safe operation of 65 such nuclear plants, including one in eastern Russia, not far from Alaska.

Koskinen, who heads Clinton's Year-2000 Conversion Council, said those nuclear plants are in countries "obviously with major economic problems," and U.S. experts know few details about how the Russian equipment will react to the date rollover.

An expert on those nuclear plants, Richard Wilson of Harvard University, said control systems to prevent serious accidents are mostly not computerized, although some electronic monitors could be affected by the technology glitch.

The latest report from the White House reflects unprecedented pessimism about overseas efforts by the administration, which is warning that failures in some foreign countries are now all but certain in electric power, telecommunications and transportation networks.


-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), April 23, 1999


Thanks Gayla, I believe the storm warnings are beginning to intensify. I view this document as a major shift, given the source, and that it is still quite watered down from the real truth. Most serious to my location since the site off Alaska that they are most concerned with is Bilibino. A mining distict that apparently suffered a crack in the reactor this summer, causing a call for American help from Yeltsin to fly in a team from US to inspect and offer advice. At the same time a tripod the size of the lunar module appeared in front of our local library to continuously monitor for radiation fallout coming out of the Russian Far East! Remember these folks haven't been paid for many months, families are close to starving, and this plant is Chernobyl vintage and has already exceeded its expected lifespan.

-- (snowleopard6@webtv.net), April 23, 1999.

Thanks for the info, Gayla. Much appreciated.

Snowleopard? What have the readings been like on the 'tripod'? Have any been made public? I would imagine that it would be headline news if we weren't so distracted by war and murder elsewhere...

-- J (jart5@bellsouth.net), April 23, 1999.

J, I will check again. Asked same question of college staff last week. Apparently only one local person trained on equipment usage. Most don't even know what it is, and are quite shocked when I tell them. Even though the local rag ran a small story last summer. How do these papers make a living anymore? Peope seem to buy them, but don't really read them. Same goes for Y2K as well I guess. Other forms of radiation monitoring has been going on sporadically in the region the last decade due to the scuttling of ships, and submarines in the high arctic waters by the Russians, as well as disposal of all kinds of radiation and who knows what, and the concern for what from that has found its way into the food chain! See what I can find out. Snowleopard out!

-- (snowleopard6@webtv.net), April 23, 1999.

Another related article...

http://infoseek.go.com/Content?arn=a4497LBY303reulb-19990421&qt=% 22year+2000% 22+bug*+glitch*+y2k&sv=IS&lk=noframes&col=NX&kt=A&ak=news1486


U.S. Might Give Direct Y2K Russian Reactor Aid

02:39 a.m. Apr 22, 1999 Eastern

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States might provide batteries and generators to Russian-designed nuclear power plants to ensure they have sufficient electricity to shut down safely in an emergency related to the Year 2000 computer bug, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

John Koskinen, chairman of President Clinton's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said there was little direct risk to Russian-designed nuclear plants from the millennium bug, but if the computer glitch took out the power distribution system it could be a problem.

``The preliminary information we have is that, within the perimeter as they say, those plants cannot have a significant Y2K risk,'' Koskinen said.

``The Year 2000 risk is in the grid,'' he told reporters. ''It's not inconceivable that what we are going to do by late summer or early fall is look at whether we shouldn't provide direct aid in terms of backups such as batteries and generators.''

Koskinen said the plants needed a continued source of electrical power to safely shut down.

There were 65 Russian-designed plants running in nine countries and a further assessment of the problem was due to be released in Kiev Friday, Koskinen said.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), April 23, 1999.

Aware Electronics has a line of very sensitive radiation monitoring equipment. I have their RM-60 which is still $149.50 for "Complete systems with AW-SRAD version 3.5 software, utilities, cable assembly, two adapters and manual."

These can be used as a portable, not hooked up to a PC.

When I heard about the massive brush fires in the Chernobyl area a few years back, I set the RM60 up to establish a nominal background. I figured the dust from the fires would take a couple of days to get here (Georgia). The background was running 12 to 14 micro-roentgens/minute, which is pretty low compared to some places. Sure enough, two days later the count came up to 18-20 for a few days, then took a week or so to get back to "normal."

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), April 23, 1999.

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