Melting Ice Means Radioactive Military Bases Are Coming To The Surface
This patch of melting ice is uncovering more than one issue
As everyone who believes in science knows, climate changes means melting ice. What some may not know is that melting ice also means a wealth of previously hidden artifacts are coming to the surface. One of those artifacts just so happens to be a radioactive military base created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in northwestern Greenland during the Cold War.
The base, known as Camp Century, has been abandoned since 1967, cloaked in a thick sheet of ice with the intention of staying that way. According to a study published Thursday in Geophysical Research Letters, however, the 115 feet of snow and ice burying the base is melting faster than Cold War-era military personnel could have ever anticipated and could likely leave the station exposed in as little as 75 years.
The problem lies in the fact that, when the ice melts completely, approximately 9,200 tons of physical waste (like building materials) and 53,000 gallons of diesel fuel will be exposed to the air and ocean via meltwater. Factoring that in with the sizeable amount of radioactive coolant from the camp’s nuclear plant, melting ice spells disaster not only for the outlying area but for our oceans as well.
While Smithsonian.com reports Camp Century itself wasn’t a secret, its storage of nuclear weapons was. At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. military pursued innovative ways to store weapons in an area where they could be easily fired across the Arctic Circle. Now, nearly 60 years later, with climate change altering the landscape at breakneck speeds, it won’t be so easy to leave government secrets buried and forgotten.