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Start of First Work Week of the Millennium Brings No Y2K Problems at Environmentally Sensitive Sites

Release Date: 01/04/2000
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(#00003) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported today than the first weekday of the new millennium has come and gone without major reported incident or threat to human health or the environment. The agency has been monitoring facilities dealing with hazardous chemicals and wastewater and drinking water facilities in New York State, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although EPA Emergency Response and other key personnel spent part of the New Year's weekend on-duty and reported no Y2K-related problems at sensitive facilities, the agency remained watchful Monday for problems at small and medium-sized businesses reopening after the holiday.

EPA thanks the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, hundreds of local fire, police and emergency response stations and EPA's regulated community for their hard work and cooperation in preventing any major Y2K-related incidents.

Many companies and facilities followed EPA's request to test computerized equipment early and develop contingency plans in case of emergencies. Two years ago the agency issued a Y2K enforcement policy geared toward corporations and environmental facilities that serve the public. The policy encouraged facilities to test their computers and other equipment for Y2K compliance early, and announced that the agency would waive financial penalties and recommend against criminal prosecution for those companies that unintentionally committed environmental violations in the process of testing their computers - as long as a company could meet certain criteria. This policy was developed to remove any perceived barriers to testing on the part of corporations and other facilities. The regional EPA office also sent nearly 10,000 letters encouraging facilities to test for Y2K compliance, set up hotlines and web sites, made dozens of Y2K readiness presentations at industry conferences, and worked very closely with industry trade groups to ensure that corporations took seriously their responsibility to protect the public and the environment from unnecessary harm.