Factories To Halt For Y2K

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Dated 12/21 <:)=


Many manufacturing plants worldwide will temporarily halt or scale back operations on New Year's Eve as a final safeguard against potential Year 2000 computer glitches, according to a news report today.

An article in the Wall Street Journal said that although US industries have spent an estimated $5 billion testing and making their computers compliant, mills and plants dealing with explosive chemicals and super-hot metals can be among the most dangerous places when something goes wrong.

The Journal quotes D. John Armstrong, a U.S. Steel Group Executive [NYSE:X] as saying, "We aren't worried, but we want to be sure. That's why U.S. Steel will suspend operations at its steelmaking facilities before midnight Dec. 31 and resume them sometime the next day."

According to the report, U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Works' blast furnace and some other related machinery will be shut down eight hours before the end of 1999. Crews will empty hot metal out of the furnace, and then inject steam to suspend the melting operation. The furnace must remain hot throughout or it will be damaged, the report said.

Some Japanese steelmakers, such as Nippon Steel Corp. {OTC:NISTF], Kobe Steel Ltd. [OTC:KBSTY], and Kawasaki Steel Corp., also reportedly have plans to halt several of their blast furnaces before midnight.

The Journal noted that this New Year's Day poses a particular burden on companies that operate 24 hours a day because shut-downs could damage millions of dollars' worth of equipment.

The report stated that International Paper Co. [NYSE:IP] will continue operations although some US lines may be slowed down, but the company will "lock down" its two huge mills in Kwidzyn, Poland, and Svetogorsk, Russia, due to Year 2000 uncertainties.

Many industries said their greatest concern is with suppliers, such as power companies and water providers, the report said.

Railroads that supply materials and goods to the plants and mills are also taking precautions. Union Pacific Corp. [NYSE:UNP], will stop trains New Year's Eve while the company tests the signal systems in each of its three time zones. Once verified, Union Pacific said it will resume operations starting with commuter trains in Chicago, followed by Amtrak trains, then freights. Norfolk Southern Corp. [NYSE:NSC] reported that it plans to suspend all freight trains before midnight on Dec. 31 and early New Year's Day, resuming normal operations by 7 a.m. on Jan. 2.

Reported by Newsbytes.com

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 22, 1999

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