Chemical Plants Still A Y2K Concern - Koskinen : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Link dated 10/7 <:)=

US chemical plants are not at high risk for Y2K failures, but the potentially dire consequences of a major system crash at a chemical plant make the chemical industry an area of key concern for federal, state and local Y2K authorities, experts said at a press conference today.

Most chemical plants are designed in such a way that a single Y2K- related failure would not trigger any kind of environmental disaster, said John Koskinen, chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion at today's event. In most cases, isolated Y2K failures could, at worst, result in spoiled batches for some chemical makers, he added.

Still, "while the risks may be small, the (potential) results (of a failure) are huge," Koskinen said, alluding to the dangers associated with unplanned releases of toxic gasses and other substances.

Large chemical companies are addressing that danger and making strong progress toward Y2K remediation, Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) Director Jon Mayhew contended at today's event.

Roughly 96 percent of the companies that have responded to the association's Y2K questionnaires are reporting that they will complete Y2K fixes before the end of the third quarter, Mayhew said. All respondents anticipate finishing Y2K remediation efforts before Jan. 1. CMA members account for 90 percent of the nation's chemical production.

Y2K-related information about the nation's smaller chemical producers is considerably more spotty, according to Koskinen, but the nature of the smaller producers makes those firms somewhat less susceptible to Y2K failures, he added.

First of all, small chemical producers or "batch manufacturers" typically rely less on automation than do their larger counterparts, and second, since the smaller firms tend not to be in constant operation, they are less likely to be operating during the roll-over period, according to industry and governmental leaders.

Some chemical companies have announced that they will shut down some or all of their operations as a precautionary measure during the date roll-over, Jim Makris of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said today.

But mandating such precautionary shutdowns would be a mistake, he stressed.

"There are some plants (designed in such a way) that if you ordered them to shut down, you would make them more dangerous," he said.

Only 86 percent of the CMA's members have responded to the association's Y2K questionnaire as of today, but Mayhew said he anticipates a 100 percent response rate within a few weeks.

Reported by,

-- Sysman (, October 08, 1999



Just more heavy duty spin cycle. I hope it makes them dizzy.


-- no talking please (, October 08, 1999.

Hazmat accidents are a big concern and possibility.

Shelter In Place: Make Your Kits

Shelter In Place

aka SIP

[ Courtesy of ECHO Caer Group, Emergency Communications for Hazardous Operations, taught through the Portland, Oregon Fire Dept Training Center ]

[ For Educational Purposes ]

"There may be a time when an emergency takes place in your community due to an airborne toxic chemical release. The outside air quality may be affected to the point that it is not safe to be outside or evacuate. In a case like this it is usually safer to shelter-in-place until wind disperses and moves the toxic chemical away.


Many, but not all, facilities (chemical/industrial plants) and emergency vehicles have alarm, siren, horn, or similar notification devices or systems. A three to five minute continuous signal means:

"Turn on TV or radio. Listen for essential emergency information."

These various signal devices may use different tones. The key is that they will be continuously activated for three to five minutes. If you hear this signal go inside immediately and turn on your radio or TV.

For Airborne toxic chemical releases the safest immediate action is to shelter-inplace while listening for further instructions.


1. Move inside immediately and turn on radio or TV for emergency information.
Proceed right away to:

2. Close all windows and doors.

3. Turn off ventilation systems. Remember heating, cooling, air pumps, bathroom fans, kitchen fans, oven/stove ventilation fans, dryer exhaust, chemney/fireplace vents, etc.

4. In buildings, go into and seal a room if possible.

5. Continue to listen to radio or TV for further instructions.


Go inside the nearest structure such as a home, school, store, public building. Bring pets inside if practical. If indoors already, stay there. Turn on radio or TV for emergency information. If you are in a vehicle, close all windows, manual vents and ventilation systems.

In a structure:
Shut all windows, doors, chimney or fire place vents. This includes everything that can quickly and easily be closed to prevent the chemical from entering.

Turn off forced air heating or cooling systems. Turn of stove and bathroom exhaust fans.

Go into a room, preferably with no, or few, windows or outside air vents. If possible seal doors, windows, vents, etc. with plastic and tape or wet rags.

Continue to listen to the radio or TV on a local emergency alert system station until the emergency is over or until you are given instruction to evacuate. (Use a battery powered radio if the power is off.)


It is important that you have a plan for your home or business for sheltering-in-place. Some key steps in this plan are:

* Knowing what doors and windows are likely to be open and assigning some one to check and close and LOCK them. Locking seals better.

* Knowing where the manual vents are and how to close them.

* Knowing where forced air heating or cooling controls/power exhaust vents are and how to turn them off.

* Knowing what room you will go to and how to seal it. Have a kit pre-prepared for this consisting of things such as plastic sheeting, strong tape, duct tape, rags, towels, water, snacks, etc.
Pre-cut the plastic to completely seal all windows and doors and any vents in your designated shelter room. With easy-to-see large labels, clearly mark on the plastic which opening/window/door/vent it fits.

* Have a radio (preferably two). Have one electric and one battery operated radio in the room you've identified. Know the emergency alert system station(s) for your area and have the station numbers written on a piece of tape attached to the radio.


Most chemical release incidents are short-term in nature. But for any potential emergency situation, always keep an adequate supply of contained food and water sources, flashlights, first aid kit, batteries, a portable radio, essential medicines and other essentials. Practice safety drills to be prepared and know the emergency plans for your workplace and schools.


When a release or spill is identified, some chemical plants dispatch trained emergency responders to quickly assess the situation and plan an approrpiate response. If offsite impacts are possible, local response agencies (Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, etc) are contacted and consulted with. The local response agencies will then decide what actions, if any, are necessary to protect the surrounding community.

[ Note: these instructions were not written with Y2K in mind, when communications may be overwhelmed or out and emergency responders completely overwhelmed. ]

Sheltering inside a building is considered to be a proven method of protecting yourself and your family in the event of an accidental release.


* Close all doors to the outside and close and lock all windows (windows sometimes seal better when locked);

* Turn off ventilation systems;

* Monitor the local Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio station for updates and remain in shelter until authorities indicate it is safe to come out.

Select a room in the building where occupants can be the most comfortable and which is easy to seal off. This room should, if possible, provide access to water, toilet facilities, and adequate room for people to sit or lie down. The room should have a battery-powered radio, snack foods, and bottled water.

Many people opt for the master bedroom area with bathroom.

If the gas or vapor is soluble or even partially soluble in water -- hold a wet cloth or handkerchief over your nose and mouth if the gases start to bother you. For a higher degree of protection, go into the bathroom, close the door, and turn on the shower in a strong spray to "wash" the air. Seal any openings to the outside of the bathroom as best as you can. Don't worry about running out of air to breathe. That is highly unlikely in normal homes and buildings.

Be sure to make Shelter-In-Place kits, with pre-cut, marked heavy plastic and strong tape to seal your closed doors, windows, vents, exhaust systems -- anywhere anything from outside could get in. Keep your kit accessible in the designated room. Make sure all members of the family know what the kit is for, how to use it, and why. Drill and practice Sheltering-In-Place.


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, October 08, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ