Water Main Breaks & an Oil Spill Disaster: Role of Computer Glitches

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Interesting post from "Ellen03" on a current thread on TB2K. I have included the post and my response to it here.

"Dr. Gordon,

I saw that article and it does make you go hmmm. South Bend Indiana is in the process of replacing all the underground wiring in their downtown as they have had five fires in the last year. I tried to find the article with no luck.

Here's something else taken from NBC33 in Fort Wayne

Possible cause of multiple water main breaks identified

June 29 - Fort Wayne officials may have found out why those 12 water mains broke over the weekend.

The acting superintendent at the Fort Wayne water filtration plant told NBC33 News, that there was a computer glitch, the kind that could have caused a surge in pressure. The computer showed a drop in outgoing water pressure that didn't really happen. That false message could have prompted the operator who was on duty, to switch the pressure control to manual, possibly cranking up the pressure.

Thought you might be interested.

(End of posting from Ellen03) _________________________________________

My response to Ellen03's post on 7/2/2001:

......Thanks..., Ellen, for your very interesting report about a computer glitch apparently played a role in water main breaks in Southbend, Indiana. I will crosspost what you have shared on GICC. I think others will find it of interest.

The account you shared reminded me of another incident, one that had major environmental impacts. It turns out that a computer-related control system problem was involved, a control system problem that was definitely Y2K-related. The oil spill in question occurred early in the year 2000 and involved a ruptured oil pipeline. According to an account that came to my attention in May 2001, it seems that when the pipeline ruptured, corrective actions were delayed because the gauge had been disabled and the fall in pressure in the pipeline was not immediately apparent. The pressure gauge had been disabled some time before the rupture occurred because it was not Y2K-compliant.

Those with first hand knowledge of the facts surrounding the case are not inclined to make this particular fact known. In fact, it seem unlikely that the role that the disabled non-Y2K compliant gauge played in this incident will ever be willingly and publicly acknowledged by those with direct knowledge. (A range of reasons that many have for keeping such information to themselves has been explored in an April 12, 2000 presentation I gave in Washington. For a link to an outline of this presentation or a link to a video of the presentation, see the programs portion of my website at http://www.gwu.edu/~y2k/keypeople/gordon .)

An absence of needed data owing to the disablement of a non-Y2K compliant gauge or the disablement of control systems OR faulty data resulting from malfunctioning systems can obviously have serious consequences. Indeed, prior to the rollover, awareness of such possible consequences was a major driving force in worldwide efforts to replace or remediate systems that were likely to fail or malfunction. Everyone, however, did not take necessary or timely action. In fact some decided to "fix on failure" or to apply temporary fixes or use work arounds or revert to manual operations and put off making long term fixes to the future.

It could be some time before there is a fuller public understanding concerning what has happened and what is continuing to happen, directly or indirectly relating to the whole daunting array of Y2K technology problems.

As they say, "Stay tuned..."

(End of posting from Paula Gordon)

End of quoted thread

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), July 02, 2001


There is a second variant of the Leap Year Date Bug, which caused some computer software (including embedded systems) to not recognize day 366 of year 00, instead skipping over to day 001 of year 01, and remaining one day fast thereafter until fixed. This has sometimes been called the "Y2K+1" bug.

This "Y2K+1" bug may have played a major role in the dramatic escalation of the California energy crisis in January 2001, when blackouts hit for the first time, plus frequent Stage 3 alerts late in the month.

Investigations of price gouging by electricity generation companies will probably reveal a dramatic increase in power plant breakdowns and "maintenance" during this time period. The accused power companies will have to explain why this was not deliberate, as it is so unlikely to be a chance occurrence.

Will the power companies finally have to "spill the beans", and invoke the Good Samaritan Act as their final last stand affirmative defense, to avoid a judgment against them of many billions of dollars for price gouging??

Or, to maintain the Y2K cover-up, will there be a secret settlement that largely leaves California "holding the bag", knowing the power companies could use this "ace in the hole"? If so, this would totally enrage the public, as they don't know why California needed to settle so cheap?

-- Robert Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), July 02, 2001.

Dr. Gordon and Fellow Citizens, I applaud your efforts to report what you actually witnessed. There are still some, with their ears to the ground. As opposed to those who only believe the sounds on the air waves. This is trite, but one big new gas station, with five of it's ten stations plastered with "outa order" signs. I quizzed why? The attendant said "those stations must be tired, business has been steady". How ironic, this station is in a suburb. Good thing that station was not located on an Interstate. I read enough to remember the "end game". And did not June 30+ just pass? And I continue to see an unpreceded number of vehicles for sale on the side of the road, along with the multiple of signs of homes "For Sale, by owner". We Will survive. Thank God!, it did not happen all at once, as some envisioned. It has been a puzzle, one must paste the pieces together, and not remain in oblivion. Cudos to you, and may I ask God's Grace in giving you Courage to continue your quest for a Truth. P.S. Free to you to pursue, "Pounds of Testimony", from A to Z, who shrieked, "We don't know what will happen!". It has been a looong road, with no harm sought nor any harm intended.

-- My Story (andI@sticking.com), July 02, 2001.

Thank you, "MS", for your very kind words and good wishes.

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), July 02, 2001.

Excuse me, I am having to hyper-link over Lucenet newly required "Password". Such a thing I have never seen, but now Lucenet is requiring a password for new messages. Once his forum information was free, but now a pasword is required. Check for yourself.

-- Chicken Brave (foryour@information.net), July 02, 2001.

If you are referring to TB2K, while initial registration is necessary, there is no fee attached that I know of. You can register by going to http://www.timebomb2000.com/cgi-bin/tb2k/ultimatebb.cgi then click on "register" which appears in small letters on the upper right quadrant of the page.

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), July 02, 2001.

Very interesting comments from Joe W. on a similar thread on TB2K at http://www.timebomb2000.com/cgi-bin/tb2k/ultimatebb.cgi? ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=002279 He notes that "....while PEPCO's generating equipment had few components with Y2K issues, their engineer in charge of Y2K admitted to me that they did find several percent of their equipment in need of attention. Evidently they did a very careful and through job, and fixed what they found. Did they find everything? If not, would they admit it? Especially this late?....."

Joe Whaley

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), July 03, 2001.

The above comment by Joseph Whaley reminded me of an article in the August 3, 1998 Los Angeles Times. Here is what that article said: "Eric Trapp, head of the year 2000 program for Southern California Edison said from 25 to 40 engineers worked for four months to pare down a list of 190,000 devices at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to 32,000 electronic components and finally to 450 items that had some potential date connection. It will take the company another year to analyze those devices and fix the ones that will fail in the year 2000." (I tried, without success, in 1998 to talk to Mr. Trapp's office so that he could confirm or deny these statements.) Assuming that the facts as stated in the LA Times report are accurate, it is heartening to know that such extraordinary effort went into checking out and remediating systems at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. One hopes that all of the electric power industry and the nuclear power industry were similarly diligent and thorough. Even with the utmost diligence, however, undoubtedly some systems were missed or are not adequately assessed, tested, repaired, or replaced. There are in fact reports of actions that have been taken to address such problems. For instance, one of the earliest reports after the rollover concerned eight US utility plants that experienced clock synchronization problems According to an ABC News report, these particular problems were quickly fixed. It is quite possible as the report pointed out that other plants may have experienced similar problems, but may not have reported them. For this thread, see http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=002CoA What about the possibility of problems occurring, problems that may be small and quickly addressed or problems of whatever size that may not be readily noticed or addressed? Let us assume that overall the electric power industry and the nuclear power industry acted in extraordinarily diligent ways pre- and post-rollover. Even so, the public record shows known Y2K- related problems have occurred involving these industries both here and abroad. For readily accessible examples, see the older GICC archives listed at http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl? topic=Grassroots%20Information%20Coordination%20Center%20%28GICC%29. These problems that have occurred could have resulted from causes involving the following: 1) some systems that should have been remediated were missed; 2) some systems may not have been adequately remediated or replaced; 3) a decision may have been made to "fix on failure", that is to fix or replace a system or set of integrated set of systems if and when it failed (or as and when its failure became evident). There is an ever present possibility that a small problem may not be caught immediately. That small problem can trigger other problems and soon it may become impossible to trace the initial cause of the problem. This may make it impossible to establish a cause-effect relationship that involves one or more Y2K-related problems. In speculating concerning the possible connection between problems that might have been Y2K-related and problems that were not, it is helpful to keep in mind that there may be no simple and direct connection between a Y2K-related problem and, say, the explosion of a manhole cover. A connection, if and when it exists, may be quite indirect. For instance, the utility may have been operating partly or fully on manual, on and off on a short term or long term basis. That may have resulted in irregularities and spiking that could have in turn triggered a spark in an old or faulty cable. Such irregularities and spiking could also have weakened a cable that had previously been functioning well (as had been the case in the Chevy Chase Maryland situation.) If effect, irregularities and spiking and changing the voltage on a line could serve as "the straw that broke the camel's back". In another situation the voltage going through the line may have been changed using automatic controls that had developed some Y2K-triggered anomaly. The amount of voltage may therefore be incorrect. This too could result in irregularities that could result in abnormal changes that could trigger a problem in a cable. "The Engineer" observed recently that the cause of manhole cover explosions is probably a phasing issue where the power nodes are out of sync. ("The Engineer's 1/30/2001 observations about ongoing Y2K problems can be seen at http://www.gwu.edu/% 7Ey2k/keypeople/gordon/EngObs.html ) Another engineer who has direct knowledge of the Chevy Chase situation informed me that there had been changes in the voltage during the time frame that the Chevy Chase incident occurred.

While there is abundant evidence of manhole cover explosions occurring prior to the January 1, 2000 rollover, these incidents tended to differ notably from post-rollover incidents in the following regards: quantity, frequency, dramatic nature of the explosions, timing (in terms of seasonal periods of peak loads) , and geographic spread of such occurrences. The differences seem to have been a factor in the Electric Power Research Institute's decision in the year 2000 to establish a new task group to study the phenomena. (For references regarding pre- and post- rollover incidents involving manhole cover explosions and a wide range of problems in high hazard sectors, search the archives listed at the bottom of the Grassroots Information Coordination Center homepage at http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=Grassroots% 20Information%20Coordination%20Center%20%28GICC%29.)

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), July 12, 2001.

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