Utah Data Center experienced electrical failures, NSA confirms
Ravell Call, Deseret News
BLUFFDALE — Electrical failures occurred during testing at the National Security Agency's massive data storage center in Bluffdale, an NSA spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
The failures were discovered during acceptance testing conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"During the testing and commissioning of the Utah Data Center, problems were discovered with certain parts of the electrical system. Issues such as these can arise in any project and are the reason the Corps tests and reviews every aspect of any project prior to releasing it to the customer," the Army Corps of Engineers reported.
The NSA did not elaborate on the nature of the electrical failures in communications with the Deseret News but said the problems have been mitigated.
"The Utah Data Center is one of the U.S. Defense Department’s largest ongoing construction projects in the continental United States. This intelligence community facility will host the power, space, cooling and communications needed to support specialized computing. The center sits on approximately 247 acres, includes 1.2 million square feet of enclosed space and is completing acceptance testing.
"The failures that occurred during testing have been mitigated. A project of this magnitude requires stringent management, oversight and testing before the government accepts any building," an NSA spokeswoman said.
Citing project documents and current and former NSA officials, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that 10 meltdowns have occurred in the past 13 months, destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and delaying the center's opening.
The arc fault failures include backup generators, and government officials and contractors are divided over the cause of the meltdowns and the whether the storage center's electrical system is sufficient for the center's operations, according to the Wall Street Journal report.
A specialized Army Corps of Engineers team reported regular quality controls in design and construction were bypassed in order to accelerate the project, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The NSA data center in Utah is located near Point of the Mountain and has been the focus of national scrutiny and criticism. It is believed to be the final destination for huge amounts of data about private citizens collected by the tight-lipped agency.
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