London'e Sunday TIMES (April 12) ran an article on Western fears over the operation of y2k-noncompliant Russian nuclear power plants. The West has no authority over the operation of these plants.
There is a tendency for Americans to dismiss y2k as if we were not part of a global economy and global environments. This is foolish. Most computer code (80%) is located outside of the U.S.
If Russian plants malfunction, there could be consequences outside of Russia and the former satellite nations.
Nobody is talking about Cuba yet. Cuba has Chernobyl-type reactors. Residents of southern Florida should at least think about this.
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WESTERN intelligence is warning of possible nuclear "meltdown" in the former Soviet bloc as a result of the so-called millennium bug. This is expected to cripple computers worldwide at midnight on December 31, 1999.
Intelligence sources say some of the 65 Soviet-made civilian nuclear power plants scattered across the former Warsaw Pact countries could malfunction as their computers fall victim to the "Y2K" (year 2000) glitch that makes them interpret the 00 date as 1900 instead of 2000.
America, Britain and France have been quick to see the dangers. But anxieties about Russian nuclear safety, branded on global memory by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, have not been diminished by Moscow's assurances that the problem is "under control". An intelligence source said: "Russia's nuclear industry is in desperate straits. Throw in Y2K and you could have a giant Chernobyl on your hands." . . .
In a recent circular to all American power plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned that "control room display systems, radiation monitoring and emergency response" are particularly at risk. "The Y2K problem is urgent because it has a fixed, non-negotiable deadline," it concluded. "This matter requires priority attention because of the limited time remaining to assess the magnitude of the problem."
Even if the Russian government heeds the warnings, it may not have enough computer experts to go round. Russia has 29 civilian nuclear reactors, 11 of which are models similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl, in Ukraine, releasing 200 times as much radioactivity as the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Other former Soviet bloc countries have 36 more reactors. Western experts believe many are already unsafe.