Oh No… Climate Change May Cause Release of Radioactive Waste in Arctic
Camp Century is an abandoned Cold War-era US Military camp buried deep in Greenland’s ice caps. It was built in 1959 as part of a research feasibility experiment into shooting missiles from the Arctic.
Historian Frank Leskovitz explained : “Camp Century was founded nearly 60 years ago a model of new kind of Arctic base. Just 800 miles from the North Pole, the base was built in large trenches buried underneath ice and snow to protect the base and its personnel from temperatures that could reach -70 degrees F and wind gusts up to 125 miles per hour. Camp Century included its own nuclear power plant, scientific labs, a library and even a chapel and barbershop.”
The location of this site is no secret. Walter Cronkite visited the “city under the ice” in 1964 which housed workers and equipment under the name Project Iceworm.
When the camp was retired in 1967 it was assumed that the 35 meter buried facility, it’s unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant and fuel would be entombed forever, but the University of Zurich says thanks to climate change, the facility could begin to melt.
By studying pollutants at the camp site, researchers from Canada and Zurich found that 53,000 liters of diesel fuel and 200,000 liters coolant from nuclear generators including 9,200 tons of physical materials .
William Colgan, climate and glacier scientist with the University of Toronto and lead author of the study warned: “It’s a new breed of political challenge we have to think about. Two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world, and now climate change is modifying those sites.”
Colgan said: “An unexpected liability due to climate change that potentially undermines the goodwill between the US, Denmark and Greenland.”
Forty-nine years ago it was assumed that this site would be buried under snow and remain that way, but according to this new study: “The question is whether it’s going to come out in hundreds of years, in thousands of years, or in tens of thousands of years. This stuff was going to come out anyway, but what climate change did was press the gas pedal to the floor and say, ‘it’s going to come out a lot faster than you thought.’”
Journalist Andrew Freedman pointed out : “Such waste poses a threat to ecosystems and human populations, the study found. More importantly, though, the research calls attention to an issue that could complicate relations between the U.S., Denmark and the newly autonomous territory of Greenland.”
As of the writing of this article, US authorities have not commented on this issue.