nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Chemical and radioactive waste could be exposed as ice thaws over abandoned military site in Greenland

Melting ice sheet could expose frozen Cold War-era hazardous waste, Eureka Alert, YORK UNIVERSITY TORONTO, AUG. 4, 2016Climate change is threatening to expose hazardous waste at an abandoned camp thought to be buried forever in the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research out of York University has found.Camp Century, a United States military base built within the Greenland ice sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall.

“Two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world, and now climate change is modifying those sites,” said William Colgan, a climate and glacier scientist at York U and lead author of the new study. “It’s a new breed of climate change challenge we have to think about.”

The study was published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth and the new research has found that the portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century could start to melt by the end of the century. If the ice melts, the camp’s infrastructure, as well as any remaining biological, chemical and radioactive waste, could re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems, say the study’s authors. The wastes would not remain encased in ice forever, as was assumed by both the US and Denmark when the camp was abandoned. Determining who is responsible for cleaning up the waste could also lead to political disputes not considered before, said Colgan.

The study’s team took an inventory of the wastes at Camp Century and ran climate model simulations. The researchers also analyzed historical US army engineering documents to determine where and how deep the wastes were buried and how much that part of the ice cap had moved since the 1960s. They found the waste at Camp Century covers 55 hectares, roughly the size of 100 football fields…….

International law is clear about responsibility for preventing future hazardous waste, but ambiguous about who is liable for waste already discarded, said Jessica Green, a political scientist specializing in international environmental law at New York University who was not connected to the study. Although Camp Century was a US base, it is on Danish soil, and although Greenland is a Danish territory, it is now self-governing, she said…….

Although the camp was built with Denmark’s approval, the missile launch program, known as Project Iceworm, was kept secret from the Danish government. Several years after the camp became operational, Project Iceworm was rejected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the camp was decommissioned. The Army Corps of Engineers removed the nuclear reaction chamber but left the camp’s infrastructure and all other waste behind, assuming the ice sheet would secure them forever. In the decades since, falling snow has buried the camp roughly 35 meters further underneath the ice. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/yu-mis080416.php

August 5, 2016 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: