Nachfolgender Artiekl erreichte uns per eMail am: 22.11.98 02:08:49


THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES Western intelligence is warning of possible nuclear "meltdown" in the former Soviet bloc as a result of the so-called millennium bug, The Times of London reported on Sunday. The millennium bug is a glitch in many of the world's computers that is expected to cripple them worldwide at midnight on December 31, 1999. Intelligence sources say some of the 65 Soviet-made civilian nuclear power plants scattered across Russia and the former Warsaw Pact countries could malfunction as their computers fall victim to the "Y2K" (year 2000) glitch, which makes them interpret the 00 date as 1900 instead of 2000, The Times reported. "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,'" the paper reported.

An intelligence source was quoted by The Times as saying, "Russia's nuclear industry is in desperate straits. Throw in Y2K and you could have a giant Chernobyl on your hands." It emerged last week that William Daley, the U.S. commerce secretary, is to host an international millennium bug conference this year, indicating the seriousness with which the U.S. White House views the problem, the paper said. "Nuclear safety is bound to be an important item on the agenda," The Times reported, adding, "Al Gore, the [U.S.] vice president, also raised Y2K at a recent meeting with Viktor Chernomyrdin, the former Russian prime minister."

In a recent circular to all American power plants, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned that "control room display systems, radiation monitoring and emergency response" are particularly at risk, The Times reported. "The Y2K problem is urgent because it has a fixed, non-negotiable deadline," that circular 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 such warnings, it may not have enough computer experts to go round, The Times reported. Former Soviet bloc countries have 36 Soviet-made civilian nuclear reactors, while Russia itself has 29. Of Russia's, 11 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. The oldest Chernobyl-style nuclear power plant is the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, or LAES, an accident-prone power station just 80 kilometers west of St. Petersburg.

LAES's reactors were actually the prototype for Chernobyl's. Russian officials say the LAES reactors have been upgraded since the Chernobyl accident revealed vulnerabilities in them. LAES has been plagued with problems - ranging from a hunger strike last year by unpaid engineers, who continued to work monitoring the reactor's safety despite dizziness and fainting spells, to an overburdened nuclear waste storage facility. In 1992, an accident at LAES released radiation outside the plant. Last week saw conflicting reports that another accident in March had again released a minor amount of radiation outside the plant.

Bearbeitet am: 08.12.1998/ad

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