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December 1999
Czech Republic
United States
Cross-Cutting Activities
Planned Activities


Year 2000 rolls smoothly by Soviet-designed reactors

After nearly two years of cooperative efforts, the year 2000 arrived, testing the extensive preparations by Soviet-designed nuclear power plants in Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine to overcome the year 2000 (Y2K) computer bug. Things went smoothly, first at Bilibino nuclear power plant (NPP) in far-eastern Russia and hours later at the other plants.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supported the preparations, focusing most of its efforts in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. Plant staff carried out the actual reviews, remediation, and contingency planning, with DOE providing training, consultation, and equipment. Power transmission and distribution specialists also were heavily involved in the extensive preparations in these countries.

During the date rollover, DOE provided technical experts at the Minatom and Rosenergoatom crisis centers in Moscow, Russia, and at the State Nuclear Regulatory Administration emergency control center in Kyiv, Ukraine. Using dedicated satellite communications systems, the U.S. specialists were in contact with the DOE Crisis Center in Washington, D.C., to keep the Department informed of the status of the Soviet-designed plants as the New Year moved westward across the globe.

U.S. and local specialists were confident that serious bugs in computer equipment had been fixed. Many of the nuclear power plants in these countries were less reliant on computers than similar plants in the United States. In particular, the critical safety systems are analog and immune to the Y2K bug.

Through its own program and often in coordination with other international organizations, DOE provided workshops, guidance, and replacement equipment to counteract the expected problems in computer systems important to safety. Specifically, plant sites had the opportunity to participate in technical exchanges for sharing Y2K information that

  • supported their inventories of noncompliant digital systems
  • assisted in their conduct of Y2K assessments
  • provided hardware and software for their efforts to fix high-priority items
  • provided assistance in developing contingency plans.

In addition, DOE provided some of the plants with a software-scanning tool to analyze and fix date-related problems in computer system source codes.

Work continued into December 1999 and, in some cases, projects were completed just before the date rollover. DOE tracked the progress at the plants on a biweekly basis during the past six months. A few items that were not critical to safety continue to be fixed at the plants. However, the absence of any major incident stands as a testament to the success of the overall Y2K cooperative effort. (Richard Reister, DOE, 301-903-0234; Tye Blackburn, PNNL, 509-372-4092) *


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