Y2K Alert Goes Out To Chemical Industry

May 15, 1999
It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

The Y2K problem for the nation's chemical and petroleum facilities has the potential for causing disruption of normal operations and maintenance, according to testimony by a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

Because of an increasing trend toward relying on automation in industries that handle chemicals, there could be substantial implications regarding Y2K and chemical safety, said Dr. Gerald V. Poje, a CSB board member and Y2K project coordinator who testified recently at a field hearing of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem in Trenton, N.J.

While there are intense efforts among the nation's large chemical producers and handlers to be Y2K-ready, Poje said, "The overall situation with small and mid-size enterprises is indeterminate, but efforts on the Y2K problem appear to be less than appropriate based upon input from many experts."

Even though compliance activities reported to the CSB have not uncovered a single failure that could cause a catastrophic accident by itself, Poje said, it's unclear what might happen if there are multiple failures.

The CSB recommends that processors conduct transition plans and have trained operators and staff available to manually take control of processes. Poje also suggests that batch processors consider delaying operations when the year changes and at other date-sensitive times.

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