Date: Tue, 4 May 1999
Sheri Nakken (Y2k Network)
Subject: French Nuclear Power Plants/Y2K
Tuesday May 4 7:20 AM ET
French N-Plants Could Be Jeopardized By Y2K Bug Full Coverage PARIS (Reuters) - Safety at France's Year 2000 Problem network of nuclear power stations could be jeopardized by the millennium computer bug, the French Institute of Nuclear Safety (IPSN) said in a report Tuesday.
The state organization said nuclear power stations were threatened not just by possible failures from their own internal computer systems, but also by the prospect of problems with the general French electricity grid.
It said research showed that between 45 and 80 percent of internal systems "could be sensitive'' to the arrival of 2000.
"Malfunctions of certain computer and automated systems at the power stations could weaken safety levels,'' the IPSN said, adding that more than 40 percent of the systems needed to be operational to guarantee short-term safety at the plants.
France relies more than any other nation on nuclear power and also supplies many of its neighbors with electricity.
The millennium problem arises because many older computers and programs record dates using only the last two digits of the year, and, barring correction, could treat the year 2000 as the year 1900, triggering system crashes.
The IPSN said many people considered a generalized failure across electricity networks in a number of countries was ''plausible'' with the Y2K bug.
"Such a general breakdown would not directly mean risk of a nuclear accident, but it would lead Electricite de France either to make the reactors function or shut down in unusual conditions, which could eventually cause safety problems,'' the IPSN said.
The French nuclear safety authority (DSIN) said in March that preparations to tackle the millennium bug were proceeding smoothly, but said it would switch off power stations if it thought their security was threatened.
The IPSN is a technical body which reports to the DSIN.
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