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In Greenland, abandoned nuclear base could be unearthed by global warming

Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base, HuffPost Canada  |  By Sarah Rieger, 05/25/2017

Climate change is causing record levels of ice to disappear from the Arctic, and the melt is unearthing something that was supposed to stay buried for centuries — an abandoned U.S. nuclear base.

The US army’s top secret arctic city Under the Ice! “Camp Century” Restored Classified Film 

Camp Century was built in Greenland in 1959 during the peak of the Cold War. The subterranean base held between 85 and 200 soldiers year-round. The base was built under the pretense that it would be a centre for scientific experiments on the icecap and a space to test construction techniques in Arctic conditions.

The base was really part of “Project Iceworm,” a top secret U.S. army program that intended to build a network of missile launch sites under the ice sheet.

The camp was essentially a small town under the ice. When abandoned in 1967, the trenches and buildings — including houses, a town store and even a hospital — were left behind, too.

The engineers stationed there also abandoned a nuclear generator that was “minimally” decommissioned, as they assumed it would be “‘preserved for eternity‘ by perpetual snowfall,” according to a 2016 study by Geophysical Research Letters. Other than the nuclear reaction chamber, all of the infrastructure and nuclear waste at the site was left intact.

The researchers weren’t totally off-base with their belief that the site wouldn’t melt. The camp was established on what’s known as the “dry snow zone” of the Greenland ice sheet, where almost no surface melting was known to occur at the time.

According to NASA’s Earth Science Communications Team, geoscientists in the ’60s believed that the climate could only change on a large timescale, over thousands of years. It wasn’t until 1979 that it was proven that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would result in significant negative changes to the earth’s climate.

Climate change is hitting the Arctic hard. Surface ice melt in Northern Canada grew by 900 per cent between 2005 and 2015, a recent study found, and melting glaciers have begun to release pollutants like DDT and PCBs into the environment.

If the ice melts at Camp Century, it will release an abundance of PCBs as well as other physical, chemical, biological and radiological wastes (including thousands of barrels of diesel) that could eventually be swept to Canada through the same Arctic currents that bring spectacular icebergs to Newfoundland’s coast every year……..

May 26, 2017 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, wastes

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