Electrical explosions at the National Security Agency’s giant Utah data-storage center have severely damaged equipment and delayed the facility’s opening for a year.
There have been 10 meltdowns in the past 13 months that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery at the data center, expected to be the NSA’s largest, reports The Wall Street Journal
According to the Journal, which reviewed project documents and spoke to project officials, the causes of the fiery meltdowns are still under investigation and it is not clear whether the proposed solutions will work.
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The Utah center, which spans more than a million square feet and is expected to cost $1.4 billion to complete, underlines the extent of the government’s surveillance programs, both foreign and domestic, as revealed in leaks
by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Norbert Suter, chief of construction operations for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, told the Journal that “the cause of the electrical issues was identified by the team, and is currently being corrected by the contractor.”
But a report last week by special investigators from the Army Corps of Engineers, known as a Tiger Team, said, “We did not find any indication that the proposed equipment modification measures will be effective in preventing future incidents.”
The report concluded that efforts to “fast track” the Utah project bypassed regular quality controls in design and construction.
The NSA's data collection and storage programs require a vast amount of electricity to keep them operational and the Utah project
is apparently not the first time the agency has had difficulty managing a huge electrical project.
In 2006, according to the Journal, the agency did not have enough electric capacity at its Fort Meade headquarters in Maryland to handle new supercomputers and had to shut down “non-essential” uses of power.
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The problem occurred again the next year, when the NSA had to resort to rolling brownouts and delaying the deployment of data-processing equipment to keep its systems running.
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