Millenium bug no excuse for pollution

The Environment Agency is warning companies: Beat the Bug - or face enforcement action if it causes a pollution incident.

Chief Executive Ed Gallagher has written to businesses licensed by the Agency to discharge emissions to the environment, to inform them that the so-called millennium bug will not be accepted as an excuse if it has contributed to a systems failure resulting in environmental damage.

Many environmental management and protection systems rely on computer software and embedded-chip technologies, and the Agency is urging firms to ensure they are Year 2000 compliant.

The Agency s Director of Environmental Protection, Dr Paul Leinster, said: “The significance of the date 1 January 2000 for computer systems is now very well known. It is essential that any company review of Year 2000 issues includes all systems which – if they were to fail – could result in environmental damage. Such a failure would not be regarded as a mitigating factor and we would treat the incident in our normal way. Enforcement action, including prosecution, could well follow”.

The Agency will be carrying out a pilot survey among a sample of companies that it regulates to determine their state of readiness. The results from the study will be used to determine what further action the Agency should take.

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