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Canadian Nuke Bunker To Be Converted Into Data Fortress 197

Posted by timothy
from the canada-has-nukes? dept.
miller60 writes "A hosting firm has purchased a nuke-resistant bunker in Novia Scotia, and plans to convert it into a data fortress for financial firms. Bastionhost hopes to attract European financial firms wary of housing sensitive data in the US due to the USA Patriot Act. The facility is one of a series of 'Diefenbunkers' built during the tenure of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to keep the Canadian government running in the event of a nuclear attack. While not all of these underground data bunker projects work out, a similar nuke-proof bunker in Stockholm, Sweden was recently converted into a stylish high-tech data lair for an ISP."
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Canadian Nuke Bunker To Be Converted Into Data Fortress

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  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:05PM (#26134935) Homepage Journal

    Basically, when we ran the numbers for nuclear war beyond a single missile, we realized the resulting nuclear winter would result in all Canadian forces and almost all of the population dying within months, and stopped wasting time on nuclear weapons, as the cost for security was higher than the deliverables of conventional weapons which were not subject to the constraints.

    Basically, being in Vancouver BC at the time, you knew you had at least 10 nukes coming down, and even if intercepted, the EMP blast would take out all commercial systems and the radiation and fire storms would destroy all urban centers beyond useful measure.

    So the two bunkers were a total waste of time, only there so the politicos could say they had a plan, and served no useful part, from any of our strategic war games planning.

    • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:10PM (#26135011) Homepage Journal

      Since when did Dungeons and Dragons have nuclear missles? Is that a 4th edition thing?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by WillAffleckUW (858324)

        Department of National Defense, also goes by the French acronym.

        At one point, after remuster, I was Chief Clerk for Pacific Region.

        • by Godji (957148)
          ...whoosh...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Since when did Dungeons and Dragons have nuclear missles? Is that a 4th edition thing?

        Yeah, it's called otiluke's flaming nuclear hellball. But it can only be used by lawful evil.

      • by Daimanta (1140543)

        "Since when did Dungeons and Dragons have nuclear missles? Is that a 4th edition thing?"

        We call it a magic missile. Present in DNDv2 and nerfed in v3, creating the present magic missile.

        Casting magic missile meant wiping out the entire dungeon. Good times, good times.

      • Isn't that just a fireball? Back when I played, we used to refer to them as nukes.

      • by Xaoswolf (524554)
        Maybe they added the Nuclear Winter Fireball that got taken out of Hackmaster.
    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:13PM (#26135065) Homepage Journal
      Well, the artist's rendition [datacenterknowledge.com] sure dosen't make it look very safe.

      It looks as sturdy as Windows XP's default wallpaper, they might as well paint a big bullseye on it, its inhabitants should hope that the neighbor's kid dosen't own a BB gun or that the tree dosen't come crashing down on it, etc. etc.
      • That's the honeypot and you fell for it, thus proving its effectiveness.
    • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:30PM (#26135317) Journal

      I'm just amazed that they thought someone would bother nuking Canada. The only people I can think of who would bother are Boston Bruins fans but they would just hit Montreal.

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:28PM (#26136125) Homepage

        I'm just amazed that they thought someone would bother nuking Canada. The only people I can think of who would bother are Boston Bruins fans but they would just hit Montreal.

        And, even the Bruins fans will recall the Christmas trees we've been sending down for the last 90 years in gratitude for help after the Halifax Explosion. [wikipedia.org]. There's actually a fairly strong bond between Atlantic Canada and the New England states -- a lot of Empire Loyalists left that area to come to Canada after the Civil war. Some of my ancestors included.

        But, on a more serious note, Halifax is a sheltered, deep harbour with a Navy base and an air base. Growing up there during the last bits of the cold war, we were all aware of the fact that we were on the list. It was kind of a depressing fact when we were kids and there was more saber rattling. :(

        Cheers

        • I actually saw the tree being carried on a flatbed to Boston this year. It had a police escort and a banner on it saying "From the people of Nova Scotia".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Jardine (398197)

          a lot of Empire Loyalists left that area to come to Canada after the Civil war. Some of my ancestors included.

          Were they hiding in the time between the Revolutionary war and the Civil war?

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Were they hiding in the time between the Revolutionary war and the Civil war?

            Doh!! My bad. Yes, of course, Revolutionary not Civil war.

            Thanks for the correction. :-P

            Cheers

        • by eln (21727)

          The funny thing about the cold war, especially during the big arms buildup era in the 80s, was that just about everywhere you went was a target. I lived in 4 different cities in 4 different states growing up, and everywhere I went people would name a nearby military base/government installation/testing ground/other strategic target and say "at least if they start dropping the bombs we'll just be vaporized". The sad part is, with the number of nuclear weapons that were in play at the time, every one of the

      • It's not so much that we were worried about people nuking Canada. We were worried about Russia trying to nuke the States and shorting on the distance.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by greedom (1431073)
      It's human nature to survive. Hell it's the nature of all living things. Even if you know it's futile you'll do anything to get even just a few more hours of life even if that life was miserable after a nuclear fallout.
    • The Bunker locations make very sense sense at all. CFS Carp is the only one anywhere close to the government, and even its still 32KM from the parliament in Ottawa. In the event of a ICBM attack, I doubt they could get their in time. The doomsday clock was set to between 7 and 12 minutes during that time.

      Looking to where I live, the bunker in BC is in the illogical location of Nanaimo. The government and the entire Canadian fleet is in Victoria (100km away), and the financial centre is in Vancouver (
      • by Trails (629752)
        That's because they were in fact socio political experiments. For example one of the bunkers had a single faulty water chip, whereas another bunker had an excess of water chips, but no GECK.
    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      '... would destroy all urban centers beyond useful measure.'

      So, it's not all bad, then.

    • Basically, when we ran the numbers for nuclear war beyond a single missile, we realized the resulting nuclear winter would result in all Canadian forces and almost all of the population dying within months, and stopped wasting time on nuclear weapons

      An interesting claim since the Canadians stopped 'wasting time' on nuclear weapons in the 60's, and nuclear winter wasn't even discussed as a theory until the 1980's, and since it takes far more than one missile to instigate nuclear winter...

      Basi

    • by Xaoswolf (524554)
      Wait...

      Who would be bombing canada? And 10 nukes? Really? I can see perhaps one, but not 10...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster (516420)
      Carl Sagan [wikipedia.org], in a televised debate with William F Buckley Jr [wikipedia.org] following a showing of the 1983 television movie The Day After [wikipedia.org], discussed the concept of nuclear winter and compared the arms race to "two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches and the other with five". In fact, the only really sensible response to the whole affair was to live near a primary target so that one would be spared the horror of survival (i.e. instant and relatively painless death). It is interesting to
      • by bitrex (859228)
        Unfortunately, one would have to be pretty darn close to ground zero to get that kind of instant death. The human body can be remarkably resilient to blast overpressure, and only a very small area would be subject to enough radiant flux to actually vaporize a person. A more likely scenario for anyone inside the radius of 5-10 psi overpressure but farther out than a mile or two from ground zero would be death from blood loss due to flying debris, or serious burns, or being trapped and asphyxiated by fires
  • It's Nova Scotia (Score:5, Informative)

    by barberousse (1432239) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:07PM (#26134953)
    Not Novia Scotia.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by WillAffleckUW (858324)

      I thought it was Nouvelle Ecosse ...

      • I find it a little interesting that it's called "Nouvelle Écosse" in French, but "Nova Scotia" in English... why not "New Scotland"?
    • by rs79 (71822)

      I thought Novia made phones and the Scotia was the white one with the blue stripes.

  • Then why Canada? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:07PM (#26134963) Homepage Journal

    If they are worried about the USA Patriot Act, then why Cananda?

    I recently returned from Mexico to the US and there was some policy they stated saying if you are a US or Canadian citizen, you don't have to fill out an I-94. Ok, I didn't know they were the same country?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      My thoughts exactly. Doesn't that just mean the NSA then intercepts data via the traditional satellites, listening posts, and cable taps? After all, one of their original mandates is collecting foreign intelligence. They don't need the Patriot Act for that...it's their jobs.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        If you send your data over the air (cable, whatever) encrypted, then you've got a chance. Nobody really knows how good a chance, but a chance.

        If your data ends up on a server in the US, which decrypts it for some reason, then that server can be physically accessed and your data is definitely compromised. If it's in Canada, the server is off limits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      The real question is what is Canada doing with nuclear bunkers? Like anyone's going to bother bombing them. :P
      • Re:Then why Canada? (Score:4, Informative)

        by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:06PM (#26135833) Journal

        You're assuming that the Russkies are good shots.

        Hell, I worked for the U.S. Air Force, and I wouldn't assume WE were good shots.

        If you're living on an extended patch of ground between two nuclear adversaries, you'd have to be pretty cavalier about living to not have some kind of protection against "short rounds".

        • by vux984 (928602)

          If you're living on an extended patch of ground between two nuclear adversaries, you'd have to be pretty cavalier about living to not have some kind of protection against "short rounds".

          The real issue is that several Canadian targets were of strategic significance in a US/USSR war. Winnipeg, Manitoba for example is several times more populous than any city in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, or Minnesota*. Winnipeg has the largest international airport by far in the area. The closest alternativ

        • I recall reading somewhere that, should a full-fledged nuke exchange between the USA and Russia ever occur, Canada would get the short end of the stick anyway, because all the missiles that are going to be intercepted by both sides will be shot down above Canada. This isn't a nuclear explosion, of course, but dusting by several tonnes of strongly radioactive materials isn't much better in the long term.

      • by MarkRose (820682) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:02PM (#26137469) Homepage

        The real question is what is Canada doing with nuclear bunkers? Like anyone's going to bother bombing them. :P

        You're catching on. These buildings actually have a different primary purpose. They're designed like bunkers so no one could devine their real reason for existence: they're some of the few places in Canada where one can seek refuge from Céline Dion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mewsenews (251487)

      Canadians crossing the border into the United States are almost always covered by alternate legislation than the Rest of The World. Since I was a child the only identification a Canadian needed was a birth certificate. Since 9/11 the Americans have been trying to require passports for land crossings but it keeps being pushed back, although it is required for air travel by Canadians into the USA now.

      I didn't know they were the same country?

      No, just good friends.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Customs and immigration between the US and Canada is a bit special because so many Canadians live so close to the US border. There are even towns that straddle the border.

      We are definitely NOT the same country though.

  • by squoozer (730327) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:11PM (#26135027)

    I hope they realize that no amount of thick doors and walls or even burying the whole thing underground is going to stop 99.99999% of the attacks on this place, assuming of course that they actually intend to connect it to the Internet. While this is pretty cool I can't really see the point in it. The facility won't be easy to fit cooling, power and connectivity too and because it's underground there is a significant and on going risk of flooding. I would have thought a purpose built above ground facility with soild 5m razor wire topped walls and lots of hungry dogs would have been better.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChrisA90278 (905188)

      But this bunker was built to house a government. It has power, backup power and a backup for the backup power and all kinds of good redundant data connectivity. I've not seen this bunker but the few I've seen are designed to be very robust with multiple backups for everything and then if all else fails there are water, food, tools, parts and equipment stored in closets distributed throughout the facility. Don't assume it's a hole in the ground with just bare concrete walls

  • a bit spendy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:12PM (#26135041)

    I propose a different plan: Encrypt and decentralize. It's cheaper, you can put your servers most anywhere, and they'll survive anything short of global thermonuclear warfare. But of course, if that does happen... Chances are good you won't care. At least, not for long. It's great to have datacenters that can survive a nuclear fallout, but machines surviving has never been the problem... it's the people that generally don't make it. And good luck running your business without them.

    • by steveo777 (183629)

      True that. Unless your business is actual information for after the nuclear holocaust. Say, storing up books, archives, schematics of all human knowledge. Who cares about bank accounts and what not, if civilization wiped out tons of people, you'd need information to rebuild. And, since your business stores information that is timeless data, then you'll actually have customers left over. On the other hand if you're just holding sales records and strategies for some demographic, well that info is useless

  • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:14PM (#26135073) Journal

    A decade or so ago, thebunker.net bought a UK nuclear bunker to set up a data center. It had good connectivity to power grids, generators, and cheap cooling because it was underground. It also sounded cool, and they were able to sell to lots of London banks concerned about natural disasters and civil disturbances. They were able to get it relatively cheaply, and the savings in cooling costs were really valuable financially during years when other data centers were having trouble making money; I think they've acquired a second bunker by now.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Why was the cooling cheap ? I'd expect cooling to be the major problem with bunker data havens. You need to evacuate the heat to the surface.
      • by MarkRose (820682)
        Because you can dump that heat into the surrounding ground. Think geothermal energy reversed. The only time you can't do that is when the ground is too unstable for piping (which would mean it's a bad place for a bunker anyway), or when the ground is permafrost.
        • by dargaud (518470)
          1. Heat conduction of the ground is pretty poor.
          2. Heat will build up very quickly
          3. The ground is already pretty warm as it is (it's the average temperature of the place some meters underground, and only increases the deeper you go). Meaning if you want to dump excess heat in the Texas underground, you'll need additional heat exchangers, meaning even less efficiency.
          4. Geothermy works because there are physical fluxes: hot water flowing through porous ground, lava flow nearby (Iceland).

          I'm completely surprised t

    • UK? As in, the country where you're required to disclose your private encryption keys to the law enforcement agencies when requested, or face imprisonment?

      Wow, that's a great choice for a secure data center...

  • Patriot Act? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stimuli_ii (1266556)

    I hope they realize that a significant amount of Internet traffic goes through the States. I doubt they could 100% guarantee protection from the Patriot Act.

    • Anything going over the public Internet should be encrypted anyway, unless you want it to be public. They are worried about interception near the endpoints.
  • Plus, extra good when the hungry mobs with pitchforks and torches start looking for people to blame for the current financial situation.

    • Even better in the event of a zombie apocalypse! Just make sure you've got a zombie plan. You can't just assume that you'll be able to keep them out. If one gets in, you've got to be ready.
  • "A hosting firm has purchased a nuke-resistant bunker in Novia Scotia..."

    Not supposed to be NOVA Scotia?

  • Ok, not trying to be overly critical here, but the bunker was intended to protect people from nukes, not to store nukes. What's with the canada-has-nukes business?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You're right, Canada does not possess any weapons of mass destruction [wikipedia.org]... We're just good friends with our neighbors who possess a shitload of nukes.

      Always good to have a nuclear bunker if your neighbor even has a slight chance to be part of a nuclear conflict.

      Reading the link posted in this comment, I just learned that a secret Canada-US agreement has been signed in my city, Quebec.
      • by MarkRose (820682)
        I beg to differ! We have airborne water tankers for putting out forest fires. Just fill them up with the slime from Hamilton Harbour, and they'll kill anything!
      • Yes, but I'm just wondering why it's from the "canada-has-nukes?" department. Having a nuclear bunker doesn't imply that you have nukes.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      So tag it:

      !nukes

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Ok, not trying to be overly critical here, but the bunker was intended to protect people from nukes, not to store nukes. What's with the canada-has-nukes business?

      Well, we have one of the few nuclear reactors which is used to make medical isotopes for the world supply. We also have some nuclear power plants.

      But, you're right. We don't have those kinds of weapons, and don't want them. Our military has largely had peace-keeping and aid missions for the last few decades.

      Cheers

  • The last fallout shelter I was in succumbed to water. We had to stand on top of the bunker to call in fire considered to be danger close.
  • by Godji (957148) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:38PM (#26135433) Homepage
    Meh, who needs protection from nukes anyway? As long as all the data is safe, the Slashdot crowd will never notice the world has ended, unless they hit Google.
  • by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:54PM (#26135655)

    Swedish ISP Bahnhof [bahnhof.se] already did this [bahnhof.se]. Still cool though...

    /Mikael

    • by kv9 (697238)

      Swedish ISP Bahnhof already did this. Still cool though...

      perhaps they should have linked that in the blurb...

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:06PM (#26135827) Homepage

    when I was in the Reserves (Communications) I worked down in one of these facilities in Penhold Alberta. Bank vault style doors, a complete hospital, TV studio, a massive number of Government offices etc (If there is a nuclear war going on, why exactly do we need offices for the Unemployment Department?), all built under many feet of steel and concrete buried 30 ft underground and standing on massive springs to reduce shock. They were pretty impressive. They are several stories tall inside and no doubt about as secure a facility as you could ever want to store your servers in :)

    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      '(If there is a nuclear war going on, why exactly do we need offices for the Unemployment Department?)'

      Who is going to be employed following a nuclear war?

      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Whoosh. That was rather my point. I noticed the Unemployment office had its own rooms in the bunker and wondered why they bothered :P

  • Actually, this is in response to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's act of shutting down Parliament. If the government isn't working, then bunkers aren't needed to keep it working, eh?

    -Loyal

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:07PM (#26136715) Homepage Journal

    I used to work in a converted "nuke-proof" bunker right outside Toronto that Northern Telecom operated as a datacenter. Buried underground and under thousands of tons of concrete. Through a series of Get Smart type security/airlocks. Down the hatch, among the servers, I used to feel more secure than anywhere else I'd ever been.

    Until my pager went off.

    There's no way that bunker was "nuke proof", if puny radio signals for a pager could get through. And no, they didn't have a repeater or anything - in fact, when I asked if my pager would work down there, they laughed, and told me no, but I'd have to leave mine topside if I had one (or a cell phone, though those weren't common yet) because there wasn't supposed to be any equipment operating in that range down there (even just receiving), as part of the "shielding protocol".

    Clearly, the prohibition of them was just a way to hide the fact that they'd work, showing the bunker was "leaky". And then, to prove it, I brought my cellphone down there to use whenever I wanted, despite their protocols.

    • by TechwoIf (1004763)
      I bet they worked due to all the steel reflecting the radio singles to where you was. While VHF will not work, UHF and higher frequencies are used by construction companies due to the fact they work in steel structures.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        I don't think so. And even if it did, the high intensity RF from a nuke blast would travel those routes, whatever they were, and fry you. If not you, then all the equipment you were counting on to survive. Like the datacenter in there.

    • Really? My cell phone doesn't work in the basement of my house. Was this some sort of magic super cell phone? And where do I buy one?
    • by owlstead (636356)

      Loosing my mod points here, but was the nuke-proof building still nuke-proof after retrofitting it to be a data center? Lots of cables and stuff going out of the bunker won't do it much good I suppose.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        It was a nuke bunker for telecom equipment since it was originally built by NorTel, and was supposed to have remained such. But I think it never was.

        Who was going to ask for their money back under the warranty if they found out the hard way that they were sold a lemon?

  • while i'd expect them to mention this themselves, hosting provider and isp deac in latvia has been using ex-ussr bomb bunker for quite some time.
    http://www.deac.lv/?object_id=1083 [www.deac.lv].
    it is said to be 9m above sea level and 12m under the ground.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:02PM (#26137485)

    My first though as a Canadian was "We have a nuke-resistant bunker?"

    My second thought as a Nova Scotian was "WTF? Pass me a Keiths!"

    Seriously though, how bizarre. Kinda surprised that we had any (outside of the women packed mine shafts of Carlton U. Everyone knows its not a real university anyway).

    Though I suppose if I were going to waste a nuke on Canada I would probably hit Vancouver and Halifax (and maybe Ottawa because of the dirty politicians, and perhaps Toronto, well just because its Toronto, smug bastards...) due to the ports and the possibility the USA using them.

    So the bunker is probably in Halifax.

    Then again I already have a nuke-resistant bunker in Nova Scotia. Its called my parents place who I will be visiting for Christmas in Kentville. No one in there right mind is going to hit Kentville.

    Alternative punchline would be any house in Sask. except maybe Moosejaw (Air force base with jets and everything!).

    That said, I think its cool that they are turning it into an IT data center. Fun times.

    • Canada is and was in NATO, so probably would have gotten thoroughly nuked in the event of US/Soviet all out war.

      Plus, I'd wager the Soviets viewed it as de facto a part of the US (no offense).

    • It's a pretty cool location, really. Back when I was an air cadet, we'd occasionally end up staying in this particular bunker for a weekend, as the Debert airfield right next door was pretty much ideal for glider pilot training. (3 runways in a triangle, so you never had much of a crosswind to worry about, good grass strips on both sides of the runways, so we'd stack gliders on the runways waiting to take off, land towplanes on the left strip and land gliders on the right strip)

      Interesting thing about sleep

    • by rs79 (71822)

      "Though I suppose if I were going to waste a nuke on Canada I would probably hit Vancouver and Halifax (and maybe Ottawa because of the dirty politicians, and perhaps Toronto, well just because its Toronto, smug bastards...)"

      Karma is a bitch. They won't be so smug when they loose a zero off the end of their house value and paycheck.

      I used to live there, but moved far enough away to be safe but close enough to watch it burn.

  • South America (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cenc (1310167)

    I run a biz in South America, so I keep a mirror server in a data center in North America and my office in Southern Chile. Mostly for fear that someone will do something dumb and cut a cable in Central America, but also just for long-term security.

    If you want true protection, distribute out to as many places in the World as possible. No one is going to Nuke the Patagonia for example.

  • but how about a serious DDoS attack?

  • While underground bunkers always fascinate the "urban explorer" side of me, this project seems a bit off target.

    First of all, one needs to analyze the risk of damage from attack or other distaster, to that of a competent data center in the U.S..

    I was would say the risk of damage to a typical U.S. data center is pretty darn low. Duplicate your stuff between two different highly secure, highly networked data centers in two different cities. If the status of the U.S. infrastructure happens to be that both ci

    • According to the article, this start up is less interested in U.S. business than it is in Canadian and Euro business, with companies which, for whatever reason, can't or won't use U.S. data centers. So they are apparently unconcerned that "that U.S. institutions are highly unlikely to store their critical business data, especially financial data, in another country"

      This seems like a far more reasonable, though smaller scale, approach that may work well for them.

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