The U.S. Army has left a ticking time bomb in Greenland—but it doesn’t take the form that you might think…this powder keg is environmental in nature.

In 1959, the Army Corps of Engineers commenced Project Iceworm, an effort to build secret nuclear missile launch sites under the ice of Greenland. A base called Camp Century was established, and an underground city of sorts was created. The official cover for the base was as a research station, investigating ice construction techniques.

Did you know?

  1. The U.S. Cold War military strategy involved getting missiles close to the USSR – Iceworm would house hundreds of missiles under the ice, a short flight from the USSR over the pole.
  2. The base was created by digging trenches in the ice in Greenland, adding arched corrugated steel roofs and then covering them again with snow and ice.
  3. Made up of 21 different tunnels, the total tunnel length is 9842 feet (3000 meters) long.
  4. While in use, Camp Century hosted staff year-round and boasted a chapel, a hospital, a movie theater, and a hobby shop.
  5. The base even had its own nuclear reactor to supply all its power needs.
  6. Camp Century also hosted research efforts in addition to its military purposes; the first ice core samples used to study the earth’s climate were taken at this base.
  7. Project Iceworm was abandoned when it was discovered that the constantly moving ice was too unstable for further construction.
  8. Camp Century was decommissioned in 1967, and although the reactor was removed, a great deal of toxic waste was left behind.
  9. The remaining refuse includes hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel fuel and waste water, and potentially includes PCBs and radioactive coolant from the reactor.
  10. It was assumed that the ice would preserve the base for eternity, but now thanks to climate change it is estimated that within a century or two, the site will be exposed, and need a massive clean-up.