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1998-03-10 00:04:48


British Government Fears a Power Failure



A committee has been set up to study possible contingency plans in case of a nationwide power failure in 2000.

There are those who criticize my site as "apocalyptic" and "one-sided." But over the last year, government officials have come more and more to semi-apocalyptic views. The critics are being abandoned by the bureaucrats.

A person who has less foresight than a government bureaucrat is not what I would call a reliable source.

This is from London's SUNDAY TIMES (Feb. 15).

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THE government is drawing up urgent plans to prevent a millennium nightmare in which the start of 2000 is marked by power failures, flight problems and hospital disasters triggered by mass computer malfunction.

Senior ministers fear privately that catastrophic damage may be caused by the "millennium timebomb" - the inability of many computers to deal with the change of date on January 1, 2000. They will log the first day of the new millennium as 01.01.00 and, as a result, either assume the date to be January 1, 1900, or simply shut down in confusion. . . .

However, critics claim neither the government nor the private sector is spending enough to defuse the potential catastrophe, and senior government sources confirm work is to be done in case insufficient computer testing leads to disaster.

Two cabinet committees have been set up to deal with the problem; one is to commission a study on whether power supplies and other utilities will fail, causing traffic gridlock and problems inside hospitals.

"We have asked what is most important to society and come up with the answer that it is communication in the broadest sense," said one cabinet source. "Can we guarantee that traffic lights will work, that the roads will remain open, that ambulances can get through? What about power supplies? We have asked for work on all that." . . .

The concerns have been echoed by the NHS Confederation, which represents health trusts and authorities. It has submitted evidence to the Commons science select committee inquiry into the millennium timebomb, warning the NHS must draw up contingency plans for a utilities breakdown and food shortages which could be caused if computer failure cripples distribution systems.

The confederation states baldly: "Contingency plans require development to address a possible scenario of major cities being without heat, clean water or transport, as well as shortages resulting from failed distribution systems."


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