NSA Center for Spy Data Suffers Electrical Failures
By Chris Strohm, Bloomberg News
Oct 8, 2013 12:00 AM ET
A $1.2 billion data center being built in Utah for the National Security Agency to house U.S. intelligence secrets has been plagued by electrical failures, according to an agency official.
The causes of the center’s problems, which include 10 electrical meltdowns in the past 13 months, have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery and delayed the its opening by a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Giant NSA Data Center Won’t Stop Blowing Up
By Adam Martin, New York Magazine
10/8/13 at 12:29 AM
The N.S.A.’s enormous new data storage center in Bluffdale, Utah, will eventually blow up (in the cell phone sense of the phrase) with quantities of data thought to be thousands of times larger than the printed collection of the Library of Congress. But first, its builders must figure out how to stop the machines inside from literally blowing up in electrical surges. … “One project official described the electrical troubles-so-called arc fault failures-as ‘a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box.’ These failures create fiery explosions, melt metal and cause circuits to fail, the official said.” Each arc failure, the most recent of which happened Sept. 25, has caused up to $100,000 in damage, according to The Journal. And the site’s builders and managers can’t agree on exactly what’s causing them or how to fix it.
(A) statement from the joint venture of construction contractors said “the causes of those problems have been determined and a permanent fix is being implemented.” But a report by an investigative “Tiger Team” in the Army Corps of Engineers said the fix was inadequate. “We did not find any indication that the proposed equipment modification measures will be effective in preventing future incidents.” It said the causes of eight of the meltdowns hadn’t been determined.
So far, the Tiger Team is unconvinced the contractors know how to fix this, writing that the problems “are not yet sufficiently understood to ensure that [the NSA] can expect to avoid these incidents in the future.” When it’s finally up and running, the data storage center is expected to be bigger than anything operated even by Google (though its exact size is classified). Until then, it’s more like a zettabyte-sized headache.