Chemical Plant Readiness : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Gary North posted this today:

It says the CMA - Chemical Manufacturers Association represents 90% of US chemical producing plants in the USA.

Of the CMA members, 86% responded to a readiness questionaire.

Of the respondents, 96% claim they "will be ready by end of 3rd qtr".

90% x 86% x 96% = 74% Claim Readiness.


1. Can the 74% be verified? - probably not. 2. What about the other 26%?????

As the stakes are high, our .gov (fed, state and local) should be advising those near chemical plants of the potential exposure.

Could this be the reason for the recent spate of bio-chem terrorist "news" on the TV - Frontline etc.???

-- Bill P (, October 13, 1999


When a chemical plant gets blown sky high, it's damn difficult to use the "fix on failure" method.

Ditto for refineries.

-- no talking please (, October 13, 1999.


Just for the record, your calculations make some assumptions:

1) You assume that readiness is NOT claimed by ANY of the 10% of plants not represented by the CMA. How do you know this?

2) You assume that readiness is NOT claimed by any of the non- respondents. Non-response doesn't necessarily mean not ready.

These are worst-case assumptions. If instead you assume (also in the absence of any data) that those not in the CMA and those not responding are all ready, then the total rises to 96%. So what you have done is define the *bottom* of the range (74%), while 96% is the top of the range.

In reality, this range is entirely artificial since we have no standards for interpreting a claim of readiness. It could mean anything.

-- Flint (, October 13, 1999.

"74% claimed readiness."
Operative word is claimed. So Flint's right. "It could mean anything." >blockquote>"Non-response doesn't necessarily mean not ready."
It doesn't necessarily mean ready, either.

So Flint's right again. "It could mean anything."

Why does this not make me feel comfortable?

-- Tom Carey (, October 14, 1999.

It doesnt make me feel comfortable either, Tom. Heres a snip from my report about a county y2k meeting ( where I asked the Red Cross representative about chemical plants (and my emotional reaction to his replies . . .

Q: Do you have any information on the status of the countys chemical plants? [Your reporter asked.] A: There are 70 hazardous chemical sites in the county. [He named some of the plants handling the most hazardous, but I was stunned by the number 70 and my mind froze at the mention of chlorine gas and I neither wrote down nor recall any detail. Pre-Traumatic Shock Syndrome. The flash-forwards are nearly constant now, you know.] Q: What can you tell us about their status? [I recovered enough to ask] A: None of them are expecting any problems. Q: Has their work been independently verified and validated? A: For the most part, it seems all their work was done in-house. Theres no overseeing body to gather information. [So, essentially, what we have is a status report crafted by the PR and legal departments, with no verifiable evidence, from an industry with no regulating body, telling us that these 70 plants are expecting no problems.]

.96x70=2.8 Best case scenario, only two or three may not be ready. (Hope one of em isnt the one with chlorine-something-or- other gas!)

.74x70=51.8 Worst case scenario, maybe eighteen wont be ready.

The mighty Ohio runs through our county. It rushes past Three Rivers Stadium, picking up waters from the Allegheny and the Mon, and flows in a broad bright ribbon past our chemical plants, a co-gen, the nuke plants, on its way to Ohio. I remember the Ashland oil spill a few years back, and how nobody downstream of it could use the Ohios waters.

That the situation in the chemical industry is so unknown is disheartening, to say the least. Sure wish I had better information. Time wall is moving towards us pretty fast now, dont you think?

-- Faith Weaver (, October 14, 1999.


I understand your points and you are technically correct.

I have no other information than that quoted by the CMA. Neither does anyone else. I find that odd.

For a contingency planning purpose, whether business or individual, one must take the information available and plan accordingly while revising plans as new information comes available.

74% presents an optimistic Worse Case due to self reported, unverified data. Maybe it is worse - maybe not. Maybe everybody found and fixed all their embedded systems - maybe not.

If you have better data I would appreciate reading it.

PS: If the news is so good, why wouldn't CMA, NERC and others publish the questionaire results and name names.

-- Bill P (, October 14, 1999.


Sorry about the typo. No disrespect intended. I am a hunt and peck typist and not very good at that.

-- Bill P (, October 14, 1999.


No problem about the typo, I make my share.

You ask two different questions -- is there any better information available, and why don't they name any names.

To the first: I think this is the best we can do, and I agree it's lousy. There just isn't any validation process in place in this industry (or really in any industry, in terms of verifying the correctness of code). There are test procedures, which probably can't find 100% of errors. There are reports of known problems with devices sent directly by the manufacturers confidentially (I've received a lot of these as well) resulting from tests elsewhere. Most of us can agree that chemical companies have a *strong* vested interest in avoiding leaks, explosions, or other expensive breakdowns.

But we can not know either what a claim of readiness means, or which specific problem(s) might prevent such a claim. Like everyone else, I expect these companies (and most other sizeable organizations) to continue to work on their y2k bugs right up until rollover, after which we'll deal with the fallout. The magnitude of that fallout cannot be predicted. I would be amazed if even those outfits claiming readiness have any more idea what to expect than we do!

As for naming names, of course CMA and NERC are voluntary industrial associations, not regulatory bodies. While they serve a necessary function as a clearinghouse of information, source of recommended testing and remedial procedures, etc. their voluntary nature prevents them from working against the perceived interest of their members.

And while I'd love more details if they exist, I can understand their reluctance to name names, since everything is in such a rapid state of flux. You'll notice there is a subgroup of y2k observers who collect problem reports, but do not update these collections as the problems get solved. We still read about the original problems at GM, for example, even though GM subsequently said they fixed and tested those systems. Once a company is named as "not ready", this seems to become fixed in stone. You don't have to spend a whole lot of time on this forum to notice that any admission of problems is regarded as a fact, and any claim to have repaired them is regarded as self- reported PR spin. No corporation wants to be branded as a public threat because of some obsolete snapshot of a long-corrected status. It's a truism that a bad reputation is easy to make and hard to overcome.

-- Flint (, October 14, 1999.

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