Global Warming will Expose Top-Secret US Nuclear Project in Greenland


Global Warming will Expose Top-Secret US Nuclear Project in Greenland

 The lid of Camp Century’s unsealed nuclear fuel vessel, pictured in 1962. Photograph: W Robert Moore/National Geographic/Getty Images
The lid of Camp Century’s unsealed nuclear fuel vessel, pictured in 1962. Photograph: W Robert Moore/National Geographic/Getty Images

Pretty much everyone today has heard about climate change, global warming, melting ice caps, and so on. Now, if they believe it to actually be true or not, is another matter altogether. In any case, Greenland will soon enough expose one secret it had been hiding beneath the ice for decades now. A top-secret US military nuclear project from the cold war era, filled with toxic waste and other materials, is likely to be uncovered within mere decades, due to rising temperatures.

Camp Century, was a project designed and built in 1959 by the US military, with the approval of the Danish government, as an example of affordable ice-cap military outposts. The camp was located some 150 miles (240 km) from the American Thule Air Base and at an elevation of 6,600 feet (2,000 m). The facility, including its nuclear power plant, was profiled in The Saturday Evening Post magazine in 1960.

Also called “the city under the ice”, the facility was powered by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator, and it was comprised of 3 kilometers of tunnels, 8 meters beneath the ice. it housed laboratories, a shop, a chapel, a cinema, a hospital, and some 200 soldiers and personnel. Its purpose was mostly experimental and for carrying out research. The scientists living there were, in fact, the first to drill for ice core samples used to study the planet’s climate. Their findings are cited even to this day according to William Colgan, a climate and glacier scientist from the Lassonde school of engineering at York University in Toronto, and the lead author of the study.

But unsurprising to many, this whole thing was a cover-up for something much less friendly and a lot deadlier. The scale of it was so huge and secret, not even the Danish government was informed about its existence.

“They thought it would never be exposed,” said Colgan. “Back then, in the 60s, the term global warming had not even been coined. But the climate is changing, and the question now is whether what’s down there is going to stay down there.”

First proposed in 1960, Project Iceworm was intended to use the above-mentioned facility as a cover-up all the while testing the feasibility of a huge nuclear launch site under the ice, close enough to the Soviet Union. At the height of the cold war, both governments were engaged in a terrifying standoff, culminating with the Cuban missile crisis. because of it, the US Army decided to construct an immense subterranean nuclear program facility beneath Camp Century.

A crane positions Camp Century’s nuclear waste tank. Photograph: W Robert Moore/National Geographic/Getty Images

The system was comprised of about 4,000 kilometers worth of underground tunnels and chambers (three times the size of Denmark itself), able to house 600 mid-range ballistic missiles, positioned in clusters set six kilometers apart. Eventually, the engineers realized that the program wouldn’t work. This was because of the continuously moving ice, which made the ground beneath highly unstable which would have lead to the deformation and even the collapse of the tunnels.

From 1964 Camp Century was used only on occasion, and only after three years it was completely abandoned. The last soldiers leaving the facility took the nuclear generator with them. They instead left the remaining biological and radioactive waste behind, believing that it will be forever covered by perpetually accumulating ice. Their predictions have so far been correct. Covered by 12 meters of ice when it was abandoned, Camp Century has since thickened to 35 meters, and it will continue to deepen for a while still.


According to meteorologists, however, it would seem that the process would begin to reverse. William Colgan and his team comprised from Canadian, US, and European Universities said this in their report which they published last month in Geophysical Research Letters. Greenland’s climate has broken a new record this year, with temperatures reaching as high as 24C (75F) in the capital, Nuuk, in June. The average high for that month is 7.0 C (44.6F). Between 2003 and 2010, the ice that covers much of the island melted twice as fast as during the whole of the 20th century. This year it began melting a month earlier than usual.

The researchers studied old US army documents in order to discover just how large and deep the facility goes. They also discovered that there are an estimated 200,000 liters of diesel fuel, roughly the same amount of waste water, along with unknown quantities of radioactive waste and toxic pollutants like PCBs.

The team also worked on a climate simulation in order to work out the estimated time to when the facility would start to emerge from the ice. Based on the “business as usual” forecast (the situation in which minimal investments would be made to curve the current CO2 emissions), Colgan said that it would be a few more decades before the balance between the amount of snowfall and ice melt begins to shift.

“But after that, melt will be greater than snow. Every year, another layer of ice will be removed. Our estimate is that by 2090, the exposure will be irreversible. It could happen sooner if the magnitude of climate change accelerates.”

With this new information available there are already talks about who will be responsible for the clean-up. Since there was no prearranged agreement on the subject when the nuclear project was initiated, on the account that the US government built it on Danish soil without any of them knowing about it, the subject could become a possible future international political dispute. Moreover, Greenland became self-governing since 1979, which will add another layer of intricacy when the problem will inevitably become imminent and downright serious.

Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s foreign minister, said he was concerned about the camp’s future and determined to establish responsibility. His Danish counterpart, Kristian Jensen, has said the issue was being examined in close contact with Greenland.The Pentagon has said it “acknowledges the reality of climate change and the risk it poses” for Greenland, adding that the US government has pledged to “work with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities to settle questions of mutual security”.