Meltdowns Plague NSA's Giant New Data Center

Fast-tracking blamed for spy center's faulty wiring

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 8, 2013 2:43 AM CDT | Updated Oct 8, 2013 7:08 AM CDT

(Newser) – For all its data gathering, there's something the National Security Agency seems unable to figure out: Why its gigantic new data center in Utah isn't working. The building meant to be at the center of the agency's spying operation has been plagued by electrical meltdowns that have destroyed valuable machinery and delayed its opening by more than a year, the Wall Street Journal reports. At more than 1.2 million square feet over 247 acres, the facility is one of the Pentagon's biggest construction projects and is believed to be even bigger than Google's biggest data center—but the NSA can't store anything there if the electrical system is on the fritz.

The contractors involved have been unable to pinpoint the problem causing what one official describes as "a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box," although the Army Corps of Engineers' Tiger Teams blames the meltdown on the fast-tracking of the project, which bypassed the usual safety and quality controls. "The problem, and we all know it, is that they put the appliances too close together," an insider tells Forbes. "They used wiring that’s not adequate to the task. We all talked about the fact that it wasn’t going to work."

An aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah.
An aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The NSA's Utah Data Center is shown in this Thursday, June 6, 2013 file photo taken in Bluffdale, Utah.
The NSA's Utah Data Center is shown in this Thursday, June 6, 2013 file photo taken in Bluffdale, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, FILE)
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