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Y2K Problem Strikes Japanese Plant

January 1, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ A Y2K glitch shut down a radiation alarm system at a Japanese nuclear power plant, just three months after the nation’s worst nuclear accident ever.

The malfunction at Shika Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles northwest of Tokyo, didn’t shut down the plant itself, and there were no leaks or safety problems.

The radiation detectors themselves were unaffected. But the computer at the government office that receives information from them went dead shortly after midnight today, said Kohei Fukamoto, spokesman for Hokuriku Electric Power Co., the company that runs the plant.

The problem was detected about 10 minutes past midnight. It was unclear when the malfunction could be corrected, but there were no plans to shut down the plant.

Although not immediately dangerous, the problem was especially unnerving in the wake of the worst nuclear accident in Japan’s history. On Sept. 30, an accident at a uranium-processing plant 70 miles northeast of Tokyo killed one worker, seriously injured two people and exposed at least 150 people to radiation levels that were above normal levels.

The glitch at the Shika Nuclear Power Station surfaced after Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi had already announced on television that no major Y2K problems had arisen.

There were some small snags at other nuclear facilities, but no radiation was leaked and there were no safety problems. Officials were still investigating whether the trouble was brought on by the millennium computer bug.

At a nuclear reactor run by Tokyo Electric Power in Fukushima prefecture, 148 miles northeast of Tokyo, a piece of monitoring equipment malfunctioned early this morning, company official Takashi Kurita said.

Kurita said the problem was probably not related to Y2K, since similar equipment in other reactors was trouble-free. The reactor’s operations were not affected.

Other incidents at nuclear power plants mainly involved problems with data transmission among computers, and officials were still looking for causes.

Among other mishaps, Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported that some of its systems displayed ″100″ instead of ″00″ when the year changed from 1999 to 2000 but said its regular operations had not been affected.

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