Y2K Rolls Over With Few Glitches

WASHINGTON, DC, January 1, 2000 (ENS) - After partying on the Washington Mall to welcome the Year 2000, President Bill Clinton expressed relief that the billions of dollars spent in the United States to avert Y2K computer problems and terrorist threats were well spent. "We're deeply grateful that the celebrations were both jubilant and peaceful here, and all around the world," Clinton said today in his weekly Saturday radio address, his first given jointly with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The President reflected that the most remarkable part of the millenium rollover is the "growing inter-connectedness of the world today."

"That people all over the planet could experience the same events at the same time would have been impossible for anyone to imagine a thousand years ago, even a hundred," the President said.

Clintons

Chelsea, Bill and Hillary Clinton visit Yucun Village, during their July 2, 1998 boat tour of the Li River near Guilin, China. (Photo Photo by Bob McNeely courtesy the White House
"It's clear that our fate in America increasingly will be tied to the fate of other nations and other people around the world. We must have prosperous partners to trade with, secure democracies to share the burdens of peacekeeping, and mutual effort to combat challenges that know no borders, from terrorism to environmental destruction. To advance our interests and protect our values in this new, interconnected world, America clearly must remain engaged. We must help to shape events and not be shaped by them," Clinton said.

The First Lady encouraged Americans to work on "saving our historic treasures such as the Declaration of Independence or Thomas Edison's invention factory or the pueblos of the American Southwest, opening trails and planting millions of trees for future generations to enjoy," as part of the White House Millennium Project.

"It's clear that our fate in America increasingly will be tied to the fate of other nations and other people around the world. We must have prosperous partners to trade with, secure democracies to share the burdens of peacekeeping, and mutual effort to combat challenges that know no borders, from terrorism to environmental destruction. To advance our interests and protect our values in this new, interconnected world, America clearly must remain engaged. We must help to shape events and not be shaped by them," Clinton said.

Five U.S. nuclear power plants reported minor Y2K related problems to the the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as computers rolled date over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. The problems occurred with computer systems used for support functions such as physical plant access control, monitoring operating data, and calculating meteorological data, NRC officials said.

None of these glitches affected continued safe operations, and most were corrected shortly after discovery, said the federal government's chief Y2K watchdog John Koskinen. Years of hard work by the NRC and the nuclear industry have paid off in a smooth transition through the new millennium, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Richard Meserve said.

Critical systems in areas such as electric power, telecommunications, transportation, and finance continue to function normally at this time, with very few reports of difficulties related to the date change, Koskinen told reporters this morning.

Koskinen

John Koskinen, chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion (Photo courtesy government of the United States)
The electricity, oil, and gas industries of the United States all report continued successful transition to the Y2K rollover, Koskinen said..

The U.S. Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, said it found no early sign of Y2K problems in the financial system.

Across the United States and around the world the Y2K computer bug caused some minor problems according to reports received by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion Information Coordination Center from all 50 states, six territories, 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions, and 11 National Information Centers, and 126 countries.

In Japan, nuclear power plants reported four Y2K glitches, but the minor problems did not impact power generation or reactor operations, company and local government officials said.

Two malfunctions reported at the Shiga nuclear power plant in central Japan run by Hokuriku Electric Power Co. One problem prevented a monitor from displaying data on radiation emitted to the environment. The second problem involved the display on a data transmission system.

At Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture an alarm for a system processing meteorological data sounded just after midnight, but moments later the problem was fixed.

At a nuclear power plant in Onagawa, northern Japan, run by Tohoku Electric Power Co, two minutes after midnight an alarm signaled trouble with a device measuring the temperature of sea water cooling the reactor. Officials are investigating, but did not close the plant.

With the rollover of all of Latin America and Canada, said Koskinen, 100 percent of world oil and natural gas production has successfully reached the Year 2000. All electric power systems in Canada continue to report normal operations.

"As of 8:00am EST, we have received reports from a total of 164 of our overseas posts after experiencing the rollover; there are no reports of significant Y2K problems," he said.

Transportation Trouble-Free

U.S. and European air traffic control systems both rolled over into the new millennium without a problem, as did the Global Positioning System.

In U.S. air transportation, about a dozen equipment problems were reported from December 31 to January 1, half the average daily rate. In all but one instance, problems were corrected quickly, ranging from a matter of minutes to just over two hours. The ongoing problem concerns the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) system that distributes public notices to pilots on the ground. The FAA says it will be fixed today and in the meantime, the information is readily available through alternate computer paths.

Federal Aviation Administration is investigating each of the problems to determine the cause and to learn whether any were Y2K-related.

A minor Y2K problem was discovered at Amtrak's Control Center. The system would not retain train symbols which identify a train number on the tracking system as the train progressed on the system. Train symbols were inserted manually and the date was reset. The system is currently operating as expected, said Koskinen.

Internet Still Needs Careful Monitoring

The Internet is healthy, Koskinen told reporters. But as a result of organizations turning off systems to avoid security and potential Y2K problems, these systems may experience delays as they are restarted. This is not a Y2K problem or virus, he said. Mail systems will queue outbound messages destined for systems that have been temporarily taken off-line. When these systems are brought back on line, congestion may occur due to higher than normal loads.

"Continued vigilance is recommended as service is restored over the next few days as low levels of systems usage may have concealed Y2K-related issues," Koskinen said.

The Naval Observatory Web page contained an error that caused the date to read "19100" for a brief period following the rollover. The glitch has been repaired. The error was caused by a software code that had been written with an older version of programming language that was not Y2K-ready.

John Koskinen was appointed assistant to the president and chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion in February, 1998. He is responsible for coordinating the Federal Government's efforts to insure that its critical information technology systems operate smoothly through the year 2000 and the federal relationships with state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and foreign institutions as they deal with the same challenges.

From fiscal 1996 through fiscal 2000, federal government agencies spent roughly $4.7 billion on the Y2K problem, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion estimated.