WASHINGTON—U.S. nuclear power plants are making steady progress toward meeting the Year 2000 computer challenge and expect to generate electricity Jan. 1, 2000, without affecting public health or safety, industry experts reported here today.
"Progress over the past six months indicates that nuclear plants are on track to achieve Y2K readiness," said Jim Davis, director of operations for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Davis reported on the progress at nuclear plants during a briefing on the electricity industry's efforts to meet the Y2K challenge.
Davis said that industry tests have shown that nuclear plant safety systems-which are not date-driven-will not be compromised by Y2K computer issues and will continue to perform at high levels of reliability if needed after Jan. 1, 2000.
In reporting today on the electricity industry's efforts to prepare the power supply system for the Y2K challenge, the North American Electricity Reliability Council affirmed the nuclear industry's conclusion and stated: "No [nuclear] facility has found a Y2K problem that would have prevented safety systems from shutting down a plant, if conditions required after the turn of the century. Thus, Y2K problems in nuclear facilities do not represent a public health or safety issue."
Davis attributed the progress of nuclear plant operators in resolving potential Y2K issues to the industry's early start and coordinated approach to the issue. "All nuclear generation facilities are following a standard industry program to achieve Year 2000 readiness," he explained. "The nuclear industry established an ambitious goal for readiness that goes well beyond the systems needed for plant operation or to meet regulatory requirements."
The majority of America's 103 nuclear power plants have nearly completed the detailed assessments needed to pinpoint computer systems that might be affected by Y2K issues. Plants that have not completed this work have been asked to increase their efforts so that the industry can report on the Y2K status of all plants to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the agency's July 1, 1999, deadline.
NERC and the nuclear industry have found that only about 10 percent of the plant safety and operating systems analyzed for potential Y2K issues need to be remediated. Nuclear plants performing Y2K work have completed, on average, more than 30 percent of the needed corrections and replacements.
Davis said that plant managers are also using a coordinated approach to developing contingency plans that will help assure safe electricity generation in the event of situations outside plants. "Our goal is to have contingency planning completed at each plant by June," he explained.
"I am confident that nuclear generation facilities can complete the full scope of their Y2K programs and will continue to supply electricity well into the next century, while maintaining a high level of safety," Davis concluded.
The North American Electricity Reliability Council is the coordinating group for regional organizations that address electric reliability issues.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.