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8 October 2013 by DatacenterDynamics FOCUS
A report in the WSJ.com said the US National Security Agency data center being built the US state of Utah has suffered a series of massive power surges which have crippled the facility and left contractors and investigators struggling to identify the root cause.
The article said the problems ‘delayed the center's opening for a year, according to project documents and current and former officials.’
The project suffered 10 meltdowns in the past 13 months which led to the deployment of IT being delayed of stopped altogether. The electrical issues are arc faults with the causes still being investigated and the paper reporting ‘there is disagreement whether proposed fixes will work, according to officials and project documents.’
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines acknowledged to WSJ that problems existed but said "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."
The site is a 65 megawatt facility. The report said project documents show ‘backup generators have failed numerous tests,’ and that ‘cooling systems remain untested.’
The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the data center's construction and article quoted Chief of Construction Operations, Norbert Suter saying "the cause of the electrical issues was identified by the team, and is currently being corrected by the contractor." He said the Corps would ensure the center is "completely reliable" before handing it over to the NSA.
The proposed solutions are also a matter of dispute according to documents seen by WSJ with ‘the causes of eight of the failures haven't been conclusively determined. "We did not find any indication that the proposed equipment modification measures will be effective in preventing future incidents," said a report last week by special investigators from the Army Corps of Engineers known as a Tiger Team.’”
Balfour Beatty Construction, DPR Construction and Big-D Construction Corp are the joint venture constructing the site and architectural firm KlingStubbins designed the electrical system.
The joint venture said in a statement it expected to submit a report on the problems within 10 days: "Problems were discovered with certain parts of the unique and highly complex electrical system. The causes of those problems have been determined and a permanent fix is being implemented."
The factility is located in Bluffdale, Utah and spans one million sq ft. Each incident is said to have cause as much as $100,000 in damage.
There remains disagreement as to the root causes and the proposed fixes between the Army Corps of engineers and the contractors, the WSJ said.