Arctic/Antarctic

This Abandoned Missile Base Is Being Exposed By Melting Ice

It was built six decades ago by the US to investigate deploying ballistic missiles from within the ice sheet.

A US military base built under the Greenland ice sheet is being exposed as ice melts, potentially releasing hazardous radioactive materials.

Known as 'Camp Century', the base was built in 1959 by the US Army Corps to study the feasibility of deploying ballistic missiles from within the ice sheet to strike at the Soviet Union.

Both the project, codenamed 'Iceworm', and the base were abandoned in 1966, but tonnes of toxic pollutants were left buried. 

According to a report published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, waste from the base could thaw by the end of the century.

Layout plan of Camp Century Credit US Army
A layout plan of Camp Century (Picture: US Army).

Century's infrastructure was buried under more than eight metres of ice to provide protection and camouflage.

It could house up to 200 soldiers and was powered by a nuclear reactor, which is believed to have been removed during decommissioning.

However, unsteady ice conditions led to the project's cancellation.

Details were kept secret until 1995, when an enquiry was carried out by the Danish Foreign Policy Institute into the history of storage of nuclear weapons in Greenland.

It was assumed that increasing snowfall and ice would keep the camp safe for millennia, but it is claimed climate change could leave radioactive coolant and thousands of gallons of sewage and diesel fuel uncovered in the next 75 years.

As the ice melts the waste would seep into the ocean, threatening ecosystems of the fish and animals that depend on it.