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Y2K Bug Could Lead To Industrial Accidents

In a recently released report, Y2K and the Environment: A Compendium of Potential Problems and Opportunities, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) warns companies to act now to prevent environmental and safety problems caused by Y2K glitches. If company computers are not cleared of the Y2K bug, industrial accidents could occur, the report says. "Computer failures related to incorrect processing of dates are not only hypothetical," says EDF senior engineer Lois Epstein. "Already, a number of date-related failures have occurred. When computers failed to recognize 1996 as a leap year, some industrial damage occurred before the situation could be corrected. Fortunately, many of the most dangerous industrial processes are designed to shut down safely if problems are detected, rather than to behave unpredictably, which could lead to an accidental release." EDF suggests that businesses and government become "Y2K-compliant" by making an inventory of all operations that might have date-related failures, assessing the impact of potential failures, identifying mission-critical priorities, and correcting the most serious problems.

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