Secret US nuclear base hidden in Greenland icecap to be revealed thanks to global warming

Experts believe tons of carcinogenic chemicals could be released into sea

Gabriel Samuels
Wednesday 28 September 2016 11:41 BST
Global warming over the next few decades is likely to lead to the leaking of waste from the former nuclear base
Global warming over the next few decades is likely to lead to the leaking of waste from the former nuclear base (Getty Images)

A secret abandoned nuclear base is likely to be revealed by the melting of a large icecap in Greenland due to global warming, experts have warned.

Toxic waste is expected to leak into the sea if the ice continues to melt around Camp Century, a research facility decommissioned by the US military at the height of the Cold War in 1967.

The base became home to the world’s first mobile nuclear generator when it opened its doors to 200 soldiers in 1959, and included a 3km network of tunnels buried within the icecap.

However even the government of Denmark - which owned the site at the time - was not informed of the true purpose of the facility: Project Iceworm, which aimed to fire nuclear missiles through the ice tunnels at countries in the Soviet Union.

The US military hatched a secret plan to build a vast network of tunnels out from Camp Century, which would house 600 missiles capable of attacking Moscow at a moment’s notice, according to the Guardian.

Project Iceworm was abandoned due to the instability of the ice, and Camp Century subsequently closed down - but approximately 9,200 tons of chemical waste is thought to remain under the ice to this day.

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Researchers believe “tons” of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which cause cancer in humans, could be released into the water surrounding the facility.

The waste is buried beneath ice 35 metres thick, but a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests global warming could cause the complete melting of the ice within 75 years.

The study claims the secreted waste could become a source of tension between the US, Greenland and Denmark and poses a “multinational, multi-generational” problem.

In response, the Pentagon has said the US government will “work with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities to settle questions of mutual security”.

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