A top-secret US military project from the cold war and the toxic waste it conceals, thought to have been buried forever beneath the Greenland icecap, are likely to be uncovered by rising temperatures within decades, scientists have said.
The US army engineering corps excavated Camp Century in 1959 around 200km (124 miles) from the coast of Greenland, which was then a county of Denmark.
Powered, remarkably, by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator and known as “the city under the ice”, the camp’s three-kilometre network of tunnels, eight metres beneath the ice, housed laboratories, a shop, a hospital, a cinema, a chapel and accommodation for as many as 200 soldiers.
Its personnel were officially stationed there to test Arctic construction methods and carry out research. Scientists based at the camp did, indeed, drill the first ice core samples ever used to study the earth’s climate, obtaining data still cited today, according to William Colgan, a climate and glacier scientist from the Lassonde school of engineering at Toronto’s York University, and the lead author of the study.
In reality, the camp served as cover for something altogether different – a project so immense and so secret that not even the Danish government was informed of its existence.
“They thought it would never be exposed,” said Colgan. “Back then, in the 60s, the term global warming had not even been coined. But the climate is changing, and the question now is whether what’s down there is going to stay down there.”
The study suggests it is not.