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USA: Nuclear Weapons Plant Has Y2K Glitch

January 4th, 2000

WASHINGTON -- A year 2000 computer glitch at a U.S. Energy Department nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee remains unfixed, but workers have been able to track nuclear material at the site using an alternative system, a department official said on Tuesday.

John Gilligan, who oversees the department's computer systems, said the Oak Ridge plant has been operating safely and workers have been able manually to work around the problem.

The glitch affected a computer that tracks nuclear material used at the plant in the production of weapons based on weight and level of radioactivity to make sure it is not lost or stolen, he said.

''In the context of things, this really was very minor,'' Gilligan told Reuters.

He said workers at Oak Ridge discovered over the weekend that the computer was unable to send data to the Energy Department's headquarters in Washington for several hours.

Workers eventually were able to put the information on magnetic tapes and forward it to the department. The data continues to be sent using this alternative system, he said.

The data that is collected is not real-time information, just a summary, so there was no delay in the Energy Department getting the tracking data, Gilligan said.

''There was no interruption because there were no reports due,'' he said. ''No loss of data, no other impacts.''

Of the computer involved, Gilligan said: ''It's used basically to inventory and account for material. Part of our job, obviously, is to ensure that we don't have any lost materials.''

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