Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-----------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-----------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Thursday, 2 December, 1999, 13:09 GMT
Y2K nuclear link unveiled

Bill Richardson and Yevgeny Adamov Bill Richardson, third from left, and Yevgeny Adamov, far right

The United States and Russia have unveiled a high-tech video and telecommunications link to monitor possible problems in their 132 nuclear reactors during the Y2K roll-over.

Announcing the plans, US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said linking the two countries' atomic command centres would help prevent mishaps with the coming of the new millennium.

"While we don't expect any major problems, there may be glitches. We have to be ready on both sides," he told a press briefing at the top-secret Situation Crisis Center in Energy Department headquarters. The centre provides communications with energy facilities across the US.

Mr Richardson said the two countries' experts would sit alongside each other in the joint command centres in case there were any emergencies.


We don't expect any major problems
US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson
Reporters witnessed an hour-long exchange with Yevgeny Adamov, Russia's minister of atomic energy, who spoke via videoconference from the MinAtom Situation and Crisis Centre in Moscow.

Mr Adamov expressed confidence that Russia would be able to cope.

"All of the drills showed we are prepared for the year 2000 roll-over," he said through an interpreter.

All 103 of America's commercial reactors were recently cleared as being ready to deal with the change.

Chernobyl

The so-called millennium bug is caused by older computer software that is unable to recognise a year change, causing potential crashes or malfunctions when 1999 changes to 2000.

Mr Richardson said Russian computer systems designed to shut nuclear reactors in an emergency did not have the type of digital technology susceptible to the bug.

But he said other computer systems at Russian plants could fail.

Of greater concern to him is the sole remaining reactor at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine, scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

"We wanted them to update their technology ... but they are moving a little slower than we had hoped," Mr Richardson said.

The US has provided about $6m in the last two years in an effort to make nuclear plants in the former Soviet Union Y2K compliant.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Europe Contents

Country profiles

See also:
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Nuclear safety package agreed
22 Sep 99 |  Americas
US and Y2K: Inconvenience not tragedy
08 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
Millennium bug: 'Last chance' warning
08 Jun 99 |  UK
Drive to beat Y2K panic

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories