U.S. and Russia Linked for Y2K Alerts

The U.S. works with Russia to prepare nuclear plants for Y2K

This New Year the United States will be keeping an eye on Russia, and Russia an eye on the United States thanks to a high-tech telecommunications link. Both countries will be monitoring the others nuclear power plants and making sure Y2K computer problems don’t cause any dangerous problems.

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson showed reporters the latest high-tech, long-distance link that was set up in Moscow. The telecommunications link will allow the U.S. to see and talk with officials in Russia. Reporters were brought into the Situation Crisis Center at the Energy Department headquarters where they watched a conversation take place on 14 video monitors set up along one wall.

The video and telecommunications link will provide communication with Moscow and all of the DOE facilities around the United States. In the demonstration, you could watch each side discuss issues about nuclear safety. Russia’s minister of Atomic energy, Yevgeniy Adamov, told Richardson that Russia has done a variety of tests and everything should work just fine when the Year 2000 rolls in.

There were a couple of glitches when the new telecommunications link was tested. At one time, Adamov demanded that the television camera pan the room so he could see who was with Richardson at the table. Adamov wanted to make sure Russian representatives were present during the discussion, they were. There were also a couple of minor audio problems that will have to be fixed before the end of the year.

Russian computer systems are designed to shut down nuclear reactors in the event of an emergency. The Russian computers are very old and do not have the type of digital technology susceptible to the Y2K bug. Even so, the United States is worried that there could be problems.

As for the 103 United States nuclear reactors, the Energy Department says they are Y2K ready and there should be no problems. Even so, both sides will be linked via video cable this New Year and both will be keeping a close watch on each other.

Source: Associated Press

DATE: 12/3/99