RISKS readers with long memories or good archives may remember the piece I submitted about an incident at the British Nuclear Fuels plc plant at Sellafield (RISKS-12.65). I recently noticed that the official report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) had been published in July and I now have a copy. It is summarised below. As will be seen at the end, this is a real `text-book' incident. First, the complete text of the Health and Safety Executive's quarterly Statement of Nuclear Incidents relating to this incident. This was dated 3 Jan 92. The NII are part of the HSE. In September maintenence work was taking place within a monitoring cell at British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) Sellafield Waste Vitrification Plant, which is used to handle containers of highly active vitrified waste. To facilitate the maintenence two shield doors, normally closed during cell operations, had been opened to allow access. On 15 September, a container of the vitrified waste was raised into the cell remotely by a process worker who had been instructed to restart operations. The worker then observed on a TV monitor that both sets of shield doors were still open and took action to close them, reinstating the shielding. No workers were in the area at the time. The matter was reported to the HSE's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII), which immediately started an investigation to determine the causes of the incident. A similar investigation was also set in train by BNFL. The plant will remain shut down until the results of these investigations are known and any necessary modifications to the equipment and changes to procedures have been completed to prevent a recurrence. The NII will monitor the implementation of these changes to both plant and procedures. This is a very bland statement, just saying `two doors were open'. The incident was considered serious though. There are about 3 incidents reported via this mechanism every quarter but I can't remember another case where a full report was published. To the report itself. Knowing that nobody was irradiated or otherwise hurt you can enjoy the comedy of errors that follows. The cell involved was a room with a robot in it. Freshly cast blocks of vitrified waste were cooled and decontaminated on the level below the cell, then lifted by a crane through a hatch door in the floor, given a final scrub down by the robot, and then passed up trough another door, the gamma gate, in the ceiling. The two shield doors allow access into the cell for people to fix the robot, using the doors like an airlock. When the plant was designed it was not expected that much fixing would be needed and it was though acceptable that only one door would be open at a time during maintenence. The system that ensured this was a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) driven by a key exchange box. This is a partly mechanical thing that ensures that the key needed to open the outer door is trapped in a dummy lock until an external key from the Permit Foreman's office is inserted and the key to operate the inner door is put in a dummy lock and the inner door is closed. It would seem to be enough in itself to ensure that only one door is open at at time. There is also a hardwired interlock to prevent the outer door opening if a gamma monitor inside the cell detected high radiation. During the initial commissioning of the plant it was discovered that the robot needed a lot more fixing than at first thought, and it was also decided that it would be better if people working inside the cell could get out quickly by having both doors open at once. An additional keyswitch was added to the key exchange box to bypass the existing arrangement, with another key which was normally held in the Permit Foreman's office. In mid 1990, still during commissioning, more changes were made. Hardware changes were made to ensure that the doors could only open in the correct sequence and that the hatch door in the floor could not open if the new override key was in use. Software changes were also made to prevent the hatch door opening when the inner door was open `however, instead of being achieved directly, this was effected by a complicated set of conditional relationships intended to ensure that the inner door could only be opened if the in-cell crane was parked next to the inner door'. If the crane was parked there it could not be lifting anything through the hatch. During commissioning of these mods. a further change was made to the PLC program. This was designed to prevent the hatch door opening when the inner door was open. `However it has since been shown to contain a coding error: a "+" sign had been missed out, which rendered it completely ineffective.' This did not cause the incident, but if it had been correct it would have prevented it. There are procedures under the nuclear site licence from the NII that modifications should be categorised according to their safety importance and if they are significant they should be checked and the NII informed before proceeding. All of these mods. were categorised as minor, partly because they were designed to improve things and partly because no single mod. could have a serious effect as there were multiple protective systems. As a result, they were not comprehensively checked, nor was the NII informed. The scene was set for the incident by the need to fix the robot and also to replace some hydraulic hoses in the cell. The Foreman's log shows that at 22:00 on Thursday 12 September 91 the outer door was in the closed position. The conditions for entering the cell, laid down in the written cell entry procedure, included the isolation of the gamma gate in the ceiling and a mobile decontamination tank below the hatch door in the floor, first checking that the tank was not below the hatch. Isolating the gamma gate also isolated the supply to the switch indicating the gate was closed. This meant that the in-cell crane could not be moved, as the signal saying the gamma gate was closed was not present. This was not recognised at the time. The cell entry procedure states that the inner door should be opened first. However, the Foreman's log at 06:30 on Friday showed that the outer door was open. The Foreman tried to open the inner door and failed, because: a. The outer door was open and the software in the PLC would not allow the inner door to open in this condition b. The in-cell crane was not parked just inside the inner door, which the PLC also required to see before opening the inner door. The Foreman thought the inner door was actually faulty and got the maintenance department to look at it. They spent most of Friday morning trying to find a fault, before realising that the doors were being opened in the wrong sequence. They then shut the outer door. The inner door would still not open as the in-cell crane was parked above the hatch door, and it could not be moved without re-energising the gamma gate. After thinking about this for a while the Shift Manager decided to place a temporary override on the PLC to fool it into thinking the crane was in the correct position just inside the inner door. `This course of action was quicker to implement. The decision was probably influenced by the fact that the engineer responsible for robot repairs worked on dayshift only: there might not have been time to complete the necessary repairs if the other systems had been re-energised to move the crane and then re-isolated in accordance with the checklist.' He authorised a Temporary Plant Modification Proposal (TPMP) and got the door to open. The details of this TPMP were added to the shift log, the permit to work, and a TPMP book, but the entry in the shift log did not get carried forward to subsequent shifts. The robot engineer fixed the robot. The doors were left open as the hoses still needed replacing. `During the night shift little work was done in the Control Cell as the replacement hoses were found to have the wrong end fittings.' Work restarted about Saturday lunchtime and was probably finished by about 18:00 on Saturday. The cell could not be re-energised yet as there was no electrician on duty who could do this until the night shift. The Shift Manager's log noted that the doors were still open and the Foreman's log said that the outer door was open and the cell still needed re-energising. The TPMP was not mentioned at this handover to the Saturday night shift. Shortly before midnight the electrician was authorised to re-energise the cell. The TPMP remained in place. The incident itself happened when an operator raised a container of waste through the hatch door into the cell. His written instructions had nothing about checking the state of the doors, his control panel had no indicators for the doors, and it was almost impossible to see the doors from his control position. He did have a TV monitor to provide another view of the cell and as he raised the container he noticed in the background that the doors were open. He went to another control panel about 5 metres away and managed to close the inner door. The TPMP gets an honourable mention here as without it the PLC would not have allowed the inner door to move. Nobody was in the room outside the cell. Four people were in the next room and they were warned by an alarm in the room outside the cell. These people were not intending to enter this room at all. Nobody was found to have received any radiation exposure from the incident. During the subsequent NII investigation it was discovered that: - The changes to the key exchange box for the doors had resulted in its design becoming unsafe. The added override key was not held captive in the box so it could be removed at any time, and if it was removed it restored power to the hatch door. Also, once the outer door was open the keys could be removed from the box by reversing the normal sequence but with the outer door still open. These defects had not been discovered during any of the commissioning stages. It was not discovered when the keys had been removed and returned to the Permit Foreman's office. - The permit to work was signed off based on the keys being returned without any physical check of the state of the doors. - The logic controlling the crane did not care that the crane appeared to be in two places at once, where it really was and where the TPMP said it was. The logic still allowed the crane to lift the container of waste into the cell in this condition. - The PLC modification to prevent the hatch door opening if the inner door was open, described above, had the coding error involving the + sign. The NII made various technical recommendations, but their first recommendation bears repeating: The incident graphically illustrates the need for: (a) those who design and operate such plants to ensure that the protection systems provided are, so far as is reasonably practicable, independent of the control systems for the plants. The design and operation of such systems should be made as simple as possible. The NII are also discussing with BNFL and the IAEA to get this incident included as one of the case-book examples on the International Nuclear Event Scale for Nuclear Reprocessing Plants. Summarised from: HSE, Windscale Vitrification Plant Shield Door Incident 15 September 1991, HMSO, ISBN 0 11 886348 7. Peter Ilieve firstname.lastname@example.org
I forward to you the following, which contains a good discussion, from a professor of medicine in Minnesota, of why doctors are resisting a drive for (seemingly innocuous) computerization of billing procedures. John Bonine >From: Paul Kleeberg <PAUL@gacvx1.gac.edu> > >Last Thursday Gerald M. Phillips <GMP@PSUVM.BITNET> said: > <> I was working with AMANET when it collapsed because doctors wouldn't use it. >Out of curiosity, did you aver ask the doctors why? I used it and found the >interface somewhat non-intuitive and was disappointed that there was never >any type of gateway established with the Internet. The current iteration of >AMA/Net => U.S. HealthLink also is free standing though I am told they are >looking into an internet gateway. Same non-intuitive interface. Many of us >who would most wish to use the system (rural physicians) have to pay long >distance phone charges on top of access charges. > <> Now the HCFA is mandating computerized recordkeeping, but doctors are <> fighting it tooth and nail. > >The family doctors on my list (Fam-Med) are concerned about a number of >things. Among them: confidentiality of patient records, who is going to pay >for this change and has it ever been shown to improve outcome or patient >care? > >Regarding the confidentiality of patient records, the paper chart assured >confidentiality since it could never be found. An electronic chart can be >accessed by several people at once from distant locations and since payors >are one of the groups who are strongly supportive of an electronic record, I >might be just a bit concerned as an individual. Given payors propensity to >exclude preexisting conditions, a simple keyword search of an electronic >chart could unearth all sorts of interesting data about an individual with >little effort. It would further interfere with the physician-patient >relationship causing patients to be even more cautious about the types of >information that got into their chart. > >Who is going to pay for it? Gov't has told us in no uncertain terms that we >physicians should. For those of us in struggling rural practices, that >added burden will be all that it takes to cause some of us to close up shop >and join a HMO in a metropolitan area (Better pay, less call, fewer >administrative hassles and better cultural quality of life) or just retire. >For those of you in urban areas that may not sound like much but out here in >rural America, where communities and hospitals depend on having a physician, >it can mean economic survival of the community as well as life or death for >the individual. > >Has it ever been shown to improve outcome or patient care? We all believe >it will but I do not believe it has ever been studied. Nothing like going >full tilt investing megabucks in systems we *believe* should work without >first evaluating the costs or measuring the benefits of implementation. >Lets look at the systems in use today. What difference have they made? > >You can be sure that if a computer can be shown to help a physician see more >patients in a day, reduce the cost of providing services or enable her to >provide a higher quality of care to her patients, it will be quickly adapted. > >Paul Kleeberg, M.D., 604 North 3rd St, St. Peter, MN 56082 507-931-6721 >Family Practice, University of Minnesota Paul@GAC.Edu or Paul@GACVAX1.Bitnet
I experienced an interesting failure of an ATM network over the weekend. Using a Mastercard supplied by an out-of-state (OUS) bank, I accessed an ATM at my usual personal bank, NationsBank (NC). I was attempting to get my bank card balance. The ATM had me enter my PIN, then asked for the transaction type. I pressed "Acct. Balance" (actually, a series of buttons), and the ATM paused briefly, then dutifully spit out a receipt with a balance on it. The interesting thing was that the balance, to the best of my knowledge, was about $1200 high, just over my credit limit. I was NOT amused. I assumed I might have been subjected to a fraudulent use of my card, so I went home and called the 800 number for OUS. I reached a call director, which among other things, allowed balance requests. I asked for my balance, and was given a number right in line with what I expected, about $2000. Further, the automated system stated that this WAS the current balance as of that day, Saturday. Monday morning, I called OUS Customer Service and spoke with one of their representatives. I related the problem I had had over the weekend. She checked the balance herself, and indicated that the automated system gave the correct number, and the ATM gave an incorrect number. Her response was: 'it's an ATM failure, so you need to contact that bank about it...'. I called the local branch of NationsBank, the same branch where the ATM is located. They had me call an 800 number for NationsBank. The person there looked at a few things, including my current CHECKING balance, just in case the ATM had printed THAT number by mistake (!). Nope, not even close. After leaving me on hold for awhile, she stated that her supervisor felt that I should speak to someone in their ATM division. I was transferred there to yet another front-line service rep. After I explained the circumstances again, she thought about, then said it was OUS's problem since they were the issuing bank for the card and I should take it up with them (of course). Ignoring the customer service runaround, there are several interesting points here: 1) My ATM is getting (or giving me) an incorrect balance for a Mastercard, despite being part of the Mastercard ATM net. Note that the normal failure for a request not handled by the network, or the bank in question, is to say "Not a valid transaction type" (or something like that). I've had this happen when attempting a balance request for a card from yet another bank. 2) If my balance request is being mishandled, what about cash withdrawals? What number actually gets relayed between the banks? 3) The printed receipt has the correct Mastercard number on it, along with the text: CC INQUIRY FR CREDIT CARD BALANCE $too.many so it thought it was doing the correct transaction, with the correct account. 4) The only numbers I enter are for my PIN (4 digits). 5) Off the topic, but interesting, is the fact that my bank-supplied PIN is identical to the third group of digits in the account number. This may be a strange coincidence, or an example of gross stupidity. Steve Holzworth email@example.com SAS Institute, Open Systems R&D, Cary, N.C.
A. Urken posted some comments in RISKS-14.08 regarding the FEC's and NASED's joint efforts in "development of standards and certification testing" for election equipment and software. This is a somewhat misleading statement. The "standards" that have been issued to date are not standards, only suggested guidelines. They need to be adopted by the individual states before they are accepted as standards. This is a lengthy process, and some states have been lax in doing so. Furthermore, upon investigation of these documents, it will be revealed that the rigorous security standards work of NCSC, which takes the form of the rainbow series, seems to have been largely ignored by the FEC and NASED to date. Note that election equipment does not come under the Computer Security Act, and hence it is not required to conform to any Orange Book standards. The question that concerned citizens have been asking for years is: WHY NOT? Although Independent Testing Agencies are now becoming "certified," the purpose of ITAs is presently dubious. SRI [a consultant to N.Y.C. and the system evaluators] had its hands tied by two non-disclosure agreements (one 6 years, and one 30 years) by one manufacturer of election equipment, during an (ongoing) examination process. The policy of the FEC is to allow secrecy in the examinations, in order to preserve trade secrets claimed by the manufacturers. Perhaps someone can explain how an ITA can be "independent" while being prohibited from disclosing certain information they discover in the course of their testing process to the intended purchasers? Yes, the manufacturers know that they can protect their property with copyrights and patents, but some have claimed that such filings would "provide a road map to rigging elections" and so rely on and impose trade secrecy. Regarding Peter Mellor's posting on City University's SW Engineering program: HAIL BRITTANIA! Let us ally forces and post some curricula to the forum! Rebecca Mercuri. Copyright (c) 1992 by Rebecca Mercuri. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to RISKS FORUM for posting, and ELECTRONIC reposting is permitted in its ENTIRETY, with this notice intact. Printed (hard-) copy may only be made for personal (non-profit) use. The author retains all rights to the material herein.
Found in rec.humor: Here are The Three Laws of Secure Computing (TLSC) 1) Don't buy a computer 2) If you do buy a computer, don't plug it in. And, finally, 3) If you do plug it in, sell it and return to step 1.
Just encountered yet another hazard of modern life. In a certain new office phone system, unplugging the phone from the wall jack disables it. It won't work after its plugged in again, though after a moment it does tell you the time. Also, hidden in the manual is a line telling you not to reprogram certain keys. Of course, someone tried it, not having memorized the manual, and this disabled not only the phone but also the receptionist's master phone. Pretty neat, huh?
Some news related to the London Ambulance Service fiasco. This week's edition of Computer Weekly had a small article from the chief executive of the British Computer Society. The implication was that had the programmers and analysts from the LAS project participated in the society's Professional Development Scheme then this fiasco would not have happened. I doubt his conclusion very much because I've been a member of the BCS for the last 15 years and during that time I have received nothing substantial about the PDS. What I know about the scheme has been gleaned from Computer Weekly and Computing rather than from the BCS themselves. If those involved in the LAS fiasco would have benefitted from such a scheme it is unlikely that they would have discovered that the scheme existed. Trevor PS Computer Weekly and Computing are the ``free'' weekly trade press. Trevor Jenkins, 134 Frankland Rd, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, WD3 3AU, England email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: +44 (0)923 776436
THE INSTITUTE OF MATHEMATICS AND ITS APPLICATIONS THE MATHEMATICS OF DEPENDABLE SYSTEMS 1st--3rd September 1993 Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT AND CALL FOR PAPERS The construction of dependable systems, by which we mean systems providing high levels of reliability, availability, safety and/or security, is a problem of considerable concern to both providers and users of information processing systems of all types. Historically, different aspects of system dependability (e.g. reliability and security) have been studied quite independently, albeit that many of the goals are similar. For example, the notion of certifying functionality assurance levels applies equally to reliable systems and secure systems. In addition, users will often require some combination of security and fail-safe operation. The purpose of this conference is to consider the mathematical aspects of the provision of dependable systems, one goal being a comparison and possible unification of mathematical techniques for providing safe, reliable and secure systems. A number of different mathematical approaches have been taken to the overall problem, including probabilistic/statistical reasoning, formal models of safe, secure and reliable systems and logics of authentication and access control/privilege delegation. Papers on all these areas are solicited, the unifying theme being the application of mathematical techniques to the overall dependability problem. Hence papers will be particularly welcome which cross- fertilise the application domains. The conference will consider dependability for both hardware and software systems. Organising Committee .................... Dr. B. Chorley (National Physical Laboratory) Dr. J. Jacob (Coventry University) Prof. B. Littlewood (City University) Prof. C. Mitchell FIMA (RHUL) Dr. V. Stavridou (RHUL) Dr. V. Varadharajan (Hewlett-Packard) Call for papers ............... Extended abstracts of papers (of between 1000 and 1500 words) should be submitted to: Miss Pamela Irving, Conference Officer, IMA, 16 Nelson Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1EF, United Kingdom to arrive no later than 31st March 1993. Authors will be notified of the decision of the programme committee regarding their paper by 31st May 1993. Accepted papers will have a 30 minute presentation time at the conference. The conference will be run under the normal IMA procedures. Conference Proceedings ...................... It is hoped that the proceedings of the conference will be published by Oxford University Press in the IMA Conference Proceedings Series. Full papers will be subjected to the normal refereeing procedure after the conference before being accepted for publication in the proceedings. Location ........ The conference will be held at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), Egham, Surrey, England where accommodation will be available for participants from the evening of August 31st 1993. RHUL combines an attractive parkland setting with easy transport access (5 minutes from the M25, 20 minutes from Heathrow airport, and 40 minutes by train from London Waterloo).
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