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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Made up of 21 different tunnels, the total tunnel length is 9842 feet (3000 meters) long.
- While in use, Camp Century hosted staff year-round and boasted a chapel, a hospital, a movie theater, and a hobby shop.
- The base even had its own nuclear reactor to supply all its power needs.
- 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.
- Project Iceworm was abandoned when it was discovered that the constantly moving ice was too unstable for further construction.
- Camp Century was decommissioned in 1967, and although the reactor was removed, a great deal of toxic waste was left behind.
- 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.
- 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.
- A bunch of toxic waste from the army’s ‘Project Iceworm’ is going to leak into the Arctic
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