Mistake Fuels Y2K Worries

Fantasy is usually welcome at Florida's theme parks, but when the U.S. Navy recently warned that the lights could go out in Disney World when the clock strikes the year 2000, Orlando city officials weren't amused.

In response to the Navy's claim, Orlando Y2K manager Ron Parks says, "We've taken great strides really, in making progress towards this Y2K readiness."

The city claims its utilities are Y2K compliant, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick. That is, it has fixed any computer programs that might not recognize the year 2000 and therefore malfunction. They even launched an advertising campaign saying as much. "Are you ready for the year 2000?" the spots ask. "[Orlando Utilities Commission] is, in about 1,000 different ways."

Orlando officials got a letter from the Navy asking if the city would be ready for the New Year, their reply was a resounding yes. "Ooooh, believe me we're ready!" Parks says.

Still, Orlando, and many other cities wound up in a Navy study, published in the Internet, citing public utilities that might be in Y2K trouble. The news is a surprise to many city officials, including Ramon Miguez in Dallas. He says, "We wouldn't miss a beat, not the city of Dallas. We wouldn't miss a beat."

Even the Navy researcher who conducted the study told CBS News almost all the municipalities he contacted said they were compliant. But the study went from the Navy's Web site -- to a Y2K activist's Web page -- and before long hit newspapers and radio stations nationwide.

"Someone has looked at a very old edition of this database and has extrapolated dramatically," explains Navy Facility Engineering Cmdr. Lou Smith. "Because that isn't what it said, that isn't what it means, and oh, by the way, that isn't where it is now."

The Navy removed the study from its Web site just two weeks ago, for fear the data might be misinterpreted. It now says it agrees with a recent report from the White House Committee on Y2K, which said any national electrical failures are highly unlikely. Apparently it was just human error that caused this latest scare.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter