White House To Consider Senate-Requested Y2K Chemical Summit

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White House To Consider Senate-Requested Y2K Chemical Summit

By Bob Woods, Newsbytes

WASHINGTON, DC, U.S.A., 10 Aug 1999, 11:56 AM CST

In response to a request by the leaders of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 (Y2K) Technology Problem to hold a summit to gather more information regarding the Y2K situation in the chemical industry, a spokesperson for the special presidential council on the Y2K bug told Newsbytes the group will consider a variety of options over the next few weeks.

Senate Y2K Committee Chairman Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Vice-Chair Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. asked the chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, John Koskinen, to organize the summit. The senators said in a statement that a meeting is needed because the status "regarding the Y2K progress being made in preparing companies and others that manufacture, store, transport, or use toxic or hazardous materials in large quantities" is currently unknown.

John Gribben, Y2K Conversion Council spokesperson, told Newsbytes today the group received a letter on Monday from the senators, asking for the summit.

Gribben said the council is already looking at discussing several subject areas, including the chemical industry. A decision on exactly what the council will do should be made in the "next several weeks," he also said.

The council has already held "roundtables" on Y2K preparedness in several areas, including pharmaceuticals and food supply, Gribben said. One possible outcome of the senators' letter would be to hold a similar roundtable, he also said.

A Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) report released last March said while Y2K-related failures are unlikely to strike the largest of all chemical plant operators and manufacturers, small- and medium-sized firms may present problems because many of them were not nearly ready to cope with the date change.

CSB also said last March a widespread failure of the chemical infrastructure is unlikely, but some vulnerabilities exist in those larger systems - if a power grid failure occurs, for example.

CSB is an independent federal agency that serves as a resource in the effort to improve industrial safety. The agency was created in Nov. 1990, as a part of the US Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) need to approach smaller chemical companies to bring them up to speed on the bug, CSB added.

Joe Mayhew, vice president of regulatory and technical affairs for the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), said at the time that only 60 percent of his organization's members returned a survey detailing Year 2000 preparedness. He added that his association represents about 90 percent of the chemical manufacturers in the US.

Mayhew also said that 40 percent of the respondents expected to be compliant by the end of March, with 90 percent prepared by the end of September. All said they expected to be compliant by the end of December.

Sens. Bennett and Dodd yesterday also said the CSB endorsed the call for the summit.

"The Y2K bug has the potential to disrupt the operation, transport, maintenance, and control activities at chemical facilities," the senators also said. "We rely on these systems to ensure our citizens enjoy a safe and healthy environment."

"A White House summit will help us better understand what the industry is doing to keep those safeguards in place," both senators added.

The Y2K technology problem, also called the Y2K or Millennium bug, prevents computers from reading the year 2000 correctly and can potentially cause wide-ranging system failures.

Last month, CSB officials urged governors to review and act on its recommendations designed to avert or minimize the effects of Y2K problem when it comes to industrial chemical safety.

The letter noted that the governors should address the situation with a "massive effort" that focuses on providing easy-to-use awareness and assessment tools and training, promoting accessible resources and providing attractive incentives for Y2K compliance efforts.

Reported By Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), August 12, 1999.

the group will consider a variety of options over the next few weeks.

Glad there is no rush. There is lots of time.

-- Mike Lang (webflier@erols.com), August 12, 1999.

What a ludicrous waste of time. The committee will hear chemical industry spokesmen tell them "we're working on it" and then everyone will go home to watch sitcoms on TV.

-- cody varian (cody@y2ksurvive.com), August 12, 1999.

More "conversations?"


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 13, 1999.

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