Edward Snowden
NSA’s surveillance practices have been criticised following revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Reuters)

The launch of US National Security Agency's (NSA) new data centre in Utah will be delayed for a year after it suffered from a series of meltdowns due to "chronic electrical surges".

The Wall Street Journal citing project documents and officials reports that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery was destroyed at the $1.4bn (£872m, €1bn) data centre under construction in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.

The centre suffered from 10 meltdowns in the past 13 months, according to project documents reviewed by WSJ. Electrical failures "create fiery explosions, melt metal and cause circuits to fail", according to a project official.

The problems prevented the spy agency from using computers at the data storage centre. The first of four data facilities at the Utah centre was initially scheduled to open in October 2012, according to project documents.

The NSA is investigating the causes of the issue and is yet to decide on any fixes, according to officials and project documents.

NSA Scandal

The NSA's surveillance practices have faced severe criticism across the globe following revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden, a former contractor at the agency, leaked top secret documents about NSA's surveillance programmes that tapped telephone conversations and spied on internet activities of citizens, prominent leaders, bureaucrats, businesses and government agencies across the globe.

The gigantic 1-million-square foot data centre, which is believed to have a capacity bigger than Google's largest facility, has raised questions about the NSA's intentions. Experts believe that the new centre will keep exabytes or zettabytes of data. One exabyte is 1 million terabytes, while one zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes.

Following the Snowden leaks, the NSA has been criticised for its expansion of domestic operations. In addition to the Utah facility, the agency is building a facility worth around $900m at its Maryland headquarters and a smaller one in San Antonio.

Meanwhile, the agency officials defended their programmes, saying it was constitutional and aimed at preventing terrorism.

"In an era when our nation and its allies are increasingly dependent on the integrity of information and systems supported, transmitted, or stored in cyberspace, it is essential that that space is as resilient and secure as possible," John Inglis, NSA deputy director, said in a statement.