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This Abandoned Nuclear City Is Trapped Under Ice, What Happens If It Thaws?

This team of of scientists and engineers are
camped above an abandoned Cold War military base that’s buried 30 meters below Greenland’s
ice sheet. William: “That is Delta storm condition.” They’re part of a special climate monitoring
program, because the underground base that they’re studying, could eventually thaw
out and unearth thousands of tons of toxic waste. “On the top of the world, below the surface
of the giant ice cap, a city is buried. This is the story of Camp Century.” During the early years of the Cold War, the
U.S. started paying close attention to Greenland. To protect the island from creeping Soviet
influence, the US and Denmark signed the 1951 Defense of Greenland Act. “Today on the island of Greenland…..the
United States Army has established an unprecedented nuclear powered Arctic research center.” Army personnel put the latest advances in
polar construction to the test, building several military bases out on the ice sheet… one
of them was Camp Century. “We finally picked this plateau, a smooth
white plain of ice for as far as you could see. This was the closest to location to Thule
our supply base, which would not be affected by summer thaw.” William: “Researchers were doing a lot of
very fundamental glacier and climate research. Camp Century is probably best known for being
home of the first deep ice core to the Greenland ice sheet. It’s like nothing we have today. It was just this phenomenal marriage of technology
and innovation in the 1960s.” They built an entire underground city, complete
with housing, kitchens, lounges, a library, scientific labs, communications center, supply
rooms, a chapel, scientific labs, and even a barber shop. William: “And the whole camp, which could
house up to 200 people on a year-round basis was powered by a nuclear power plant.” The US Atomic Energy Commission developed
small, portable nuclear power reactors that could be built in remote locations, and Camp
Century was the perfect proving ground. They flew over 400 tons of equipment to Greenland
to build a PM-2A reactor, and they carefully transported the materials to the base, where
scientists then installed it to power the polar camp. “Now here this..all control rods withdrawn,
PM2A went critical at 06 52 hours.” Camp Century was presented to the world as
a heroic conquest of the Arctic, in man’s never ending pursuit for knowledge and scientific
progress. William: “They had Walter Cronkite up there
doing news hour specials back in the ’60s. Everybody knew about it. It was no secret.” But, this scientific endeavor was actually
part of a covert U.S. Army operation, codenamed Project Iceworm. In response to escalating Cold War tensions,
the U.S. wanted to position 600 medium range missiles with nuclear warheads underneath
the Greenland ice sheet. All was going according to plan, until engineers
noticed the ice that surrounded the base…was shifting faster than initially projected. William: “The people who were working at
Camp Century did not have an understanding of climate change. They didn’t have solid records, global climate
models, these big data sets that let you see an overview of what’s happening to earth’s
climate.” The ice sheet started to destabilize the underground
tunnels faster than scientists projected. William: “When Camp Century was decommissioned,
only the nuclear reactor was taken out for destructive testing, and the rest of the camp
was left in place, and they closed the doors and left. It was abandoned on the assumption that climate
wouldn’t change, and it would continue to snow at Camp Century forever. The perpetual snowfall would entomb all of
the base infrastructure and eventually bury it.” But the climate has changed. Temperatures have reached record highs in
the Arctic and Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an unprecedented rate, which could
turn Camp Century’s abandoned waste into a major environmental risk. So, a team of scientists, including William,
went back to the site. William: “In 2017, the government of Denmark,
at the request of the government of Greenland, started the Camp Century climate monitoring
program.We set up a bunch of instruments that are erected on the ice sheet surface, and
then we drill in and we put probes into the ice sheet. It keeps a real-time data stream coming from
the Camp Century site where we monitor a bunch of things, mainly the temperature of the snow,
the temperature of the ice, the air temperature. That will help us model how the snow and ice
at Camp Century is going to behave over the next century.” They also mapped the debris left behind using
ice penetrating radar. William: “The radar is perhaps the most
time-consuming because you have to manually tow it at a slow speed. It sends out a pulse of energy that goes down
into the ice, and then it reflects off different things and comes back to a receiver. It was 80 kilometers in total. That’s a lot of radar.” They turned the radar profiles into a 3D map
of the entire debris field. William: “ At Camp Century, you get those
horizontal lines of annual accumulation layers, but then you also get these big pockets of
chaos. You can see the main tunnels. You can see pieces of debris down to about
the size of a vehicle, maybe even a fuel drum. Our preliminary estimate is that we think
the debris field is about 55 acres in size, which is about 100 football fields, and we
think it contains just over 9,000 metric tons of debris. We’re very interested in how deep everything
is and where it is so that when we go to do our simulations of how much melt water that
might be at the site over the next century and how deep it is going to percolate into
the ice sheet. There is concern that if melt water starts
interacting with the debris field, it could mobilize some contaminants.” Those contaminants include diesel fuel, nuclear
waste like radioactive coolant water, and other toxic chemicals from the camp’s buildings
and general infrastructure. And all of that is on track to seep into the
environment. William: “In the 1960s, the building codes
were a little different. So we know, for example, that the materials
they were using at Camp Century were rich in PCBs and other types of persistent contaminants. And they still come out of the ground kicking. They don’t deteriorate at all. We’re at a fork in the road for Camp Century. Under the “business as usual” climate,
it looks likely that we will start to see more melt than snowfall at Camp Century. But if we stick with something like Paris
Agreement, we can keep more snowfall that melt beyond the end of the century.” But this does raise questions about who is
ultimately responsible for the clean up. And that leads us into a geopolitical gray
area. Camp Century was a U.S. base on Greenland
soil, which was governed by Denmark. And currently, no party has taken responsibility
for the abandoned base. And International environmental law really
hasn’t figured something like this out yet. William: “It’s really a microcosm of the
multi-generational, even multinational implications in climate change facing us now, and we have
to be very aware of future projections, and take action today to go on the high mitigation
and low emissions route.”


  1. Eremon1 Author

    The capacity of our intelligence and stupidity knows no bounds. Why do we keep getting dial tones from other places in the universe? Because the rest of the universe said to hell with Earth and quarantined our whole system. lol

  2. Bryan Rendleman Author

    Just another climate change propaganda vid.
    Earth's climate has changed many times over the centuries. From 1100 to he 1500s greenland was green not ice. Antarctica had a land shoreline with maps made.

  3. Robert Beene Author

    The American government has admitted to have the ability to change weather and air stream patterns. Why is nobody reporting on this? They said it’s for global warming reasons

  4. dts Author

    Why Denmark is investing in monitoring instead of dragging the US into cleaning up the mess ASAP? Other EU countries should join hands with Denmark in making the US clean it's dirty work.

  5. Orc Computers Author

    Can we all agree muricans are responsible for most of the worlds pollution.. they got three weeks to pick there shit up or we dump it in there lawn??

  6. aat karelse Author

    Oh get out of here, you could know about camp century, or at least i have and i never thought that the old reactor was going to kill anything.
    We dumped more nuclear wast in the ocean than this thing is gonna add !
    On the other hand, if you care so much dig it up and tow it to somewhere save and start a heated artificial spa somewhere in the arctic.
    Get some crazy tourists so they can pay for the upkeep !

  7. Icepacalypse johnson Author

    Lol……it's accumulated many feet of ice on top of it between 1992 and 2018.
    Yes……it's deeper now than ever.
    Do you really want to use your taxes to pay to dig it out?
    If you read the small print, you will find that the predicted beginning of melting won't even begin for another 81 years and that it will continue to get deeper until then.

  8. Pal Adino Author

    USA should give Denmark money to clean it up. Denmark will do a better & faster job. If the US government does it then it will cost a trillion dollars and take 30 years. Good luck on getting the money. USA is a drunken sailor without a dime in his pocket…USA is bankrupt just using credit cards now.

  9. Mr.Techaky Author

    Everyone be bashing America here but… If that ice melts… could I per chance get at some of those diesel drums? Why let good diesel do to waste?

  10. Bailey Pup Author

    Well if your a terrorist at least you know where to easily and without a fight get your hands on several hundred nuclear missles. Things like this make me realize that movies truly do accurately depict "bad guys" as completely dumbasses. There is enough nuclear was just sitting there to easily make enough dirty bombs to wipe out several major cities and any decently funded organization with members of even remotely intelligent chemist and weapons experts could create them. That's why terrorism is honestly not an actual threat, terrorist are far to unintelligent

  11. Rose White Author

    Perpetual snowstorm? Hardly. Today's climate has only operated since The Flood 4,350 years ago.
    Under the Antarctic ice are feesh frozen flowering plants happily growing in the flood sediments before the ice build up on the Earth's then northern mountains and plateaus overturned the Earth and it settled into today's tilt orientation.
    The reporter speaking of 'next century' is a fool as there is no next century because Jesus is due to return in a few years as all the evidence is we are in The Tribulation.

  12. Simon M Author

    The US emissions have been declining without the Paris accord. Start telling China all of this or India, but if you stop then you slow economies and or paralyze development. People think throwing taxes on American people will make of for 85% of the world.. there’s precautionary measures we can take and I’m for it but make them logical and comprehensive

  13. Countrybananas Author

    Great and this shits gonna flow right past Newfoundland. We look forward to the massive amounts of monetary compensation America, better you go fix it before it comes to that.

  14. gunnar nesheim Author

    nothing happens when it melts that havent happened already.
    the reactor isnt active is it?
    if so we got the power of the futere rigth there;)

  15. beatriz viacava-goulet Author

    They are bribing diverse local governments to acept nuclear waste globally….WHO IS MONITOR THIS DISASTER ON THE MAKING???

  16. crusade music records Author

    Us goverment and denmark both of them are responsible for this . Mankind is just eating their own tails . Us goverment out of their greedy for the power over the world they are creating chaos

  17. Thomas Wood Author

    Its crazy how the baby boomers single handily destroyed the environment and economy. They had a good run didn't they. All this bs seems to have happened during their reign.

  18. STEVEN WORTON Author

    nuclear waste get into the sea water everyone is gonna have a problem but at high of the cold war american had base in Turkey ,england, iceland,alaska who's saying nuclear waste is in one place

  19. JasJones123 Author

    No mention of the Greenland Ice Bore Studies, it took them 6 years to drill an ice bore that gives them 250,000 years of climate records. If you want to see what the REAL climate study looks like read the Greenland Ice Bore Study, these assholes can't tell you what the temperature will be tomorrow let alone in 20 years. They setup a few pieces of equipment, the people who did the ice bore were on site for 6 years.

  20. Laser Wood Shapes Author

    Coolant water? PCB's? really? You expect us to be concerned about bullshit like that? You are spending time and energy on predicting what will happen with it, so let me tell you how it will go down. 1. USA and Denmark will do nothing. 2. IF it ever melts that stuff will go into the ocean. 3. nobody will notice because 100 years of the Japan reactor leaching into the ocean will contribute 99.99% of all radioactive pollution the ocean will have in it. Compared to that, Camp Century is LITERALLY NOTHING.


    I say put all under the White House. American government is a terrorist organization and a clear and present danger to humanity.

  22. Mr. Oddly Fox Author

    As a citizen, I agree that the US should be responsible for the cleanup of Camp Century. The nature of the hazardous materials was known from the start and handled as such by personnel. The fact that the materials and structures were abandoned rather than removed makes some sense, given the lack of understanding of nuclear power at the time and that of managing its waste. An incident is inevitable, still the question of when, at this site unless handled properly.

    Furthermore, this is a fine example of the potential detriments to rapid progression in any project or technology. Careful planning for before and after are essential for stability going forward.

  23. qtpie Author

    Okay but I'm curious about the costs of not cleaning up. Like if the total contaminants are equal to that left by a plastic bag in the ocean then it probably isnt worth the costs of going to the middle of no wear, sending people under the ice and cleaning up. And yeah there's radioactive water but how much and how dangerous is it?

  24. Warfeist Author

    1. Not going to warm up short of asteroid bombarment
    2. small nuclear reactor removed
    3.stop trying to scare people to obtain money

  25. Donald Kasper Author

    "What do you mean who should be responsible for the clean up? isn't it pretty obvious? its a US military base.." When they left, they took the nuclear fuel with them.

  26. Lee James Author

    I think the billionaire club should show humanity that they are really good people and pay for the cleanup out of their pockets! It's time that they do something to show that they are human beings just like us.

  27. Thomas Anderson Author

    Interesting note: At 2:06, the narrator says the whole base was powered by a nuclear power plant, then the image goes to what appears to be a newspaper article with the headline "Nuclear Power Comes To Antarctica". (But Camp Century is in Greenland. Part of the Arctic. Not the Antarctic.)

  28. Clinton Barbee Author

    Love all the dumbass libtards using the wall B's. Really smart. A wall would absolutely stop illegal immagration. Dumbasses haven't studied any of the great empires that have fallen. But a smart ass remarks are cool.

  29. T.Jentzsch Author

    It's called weather. Doesn't the same liberal media recognize the earths change in climate over the years, mainly it has gone through ice ages as well as warming times…. we have seasons all over the world, but when we wee seasons happening on a global scale somehow its not right…. odd…

  30. Gavin Church Author

    O ok now that the cats out of the can how about the u Americans come up to Canada and clean up the land at Argentina Newfoundland that we let u use for your nuclear sub base it’s a f in mess

  31. Jonathan Estes Author

    If the US was asked by Denmark to help with for the defense of Greenland then the US shouldn’t pay to clean it up. It should be Greenland. And yes the climate changes all the time and science has no clue what the climate will do next. Why are people so dumb?

  32. David Matty Author

    Put it on the list and we'll get to it.After we clean up all the crap from decommissioned military bases and the super fund sites, take a number..

  33. Samuel Thompson Author

    Good Job Baby Boomers another mess my generation has to clean up!

    List of Shit we have to fix
    1. Hoarding of natural resources
    2. Creating a fair, open economic trade.
    3. Loosing Restrictive Countries Borders
    4. Creating economic parity on a global scale
    5. Fixing 200 years of racial inequality and foreign ties

  34. Truth Or consequences Author

    Typical US bullshit there are many sites like this left abandoned by your lovely government that you don’t even know about… But will someday

  35. Darcy Klyne Author

    the premise of the models they reference have been heavily influenced to show a warming trend (greatly debated in scope). What is the paris agreement going to do about the sun driven climate models that ACTUALLY drive our weather??? keep blaming mankind if you think pouring money at the problem through carbon taxation would actually change things. ridiculous

  36. michael smith Author

    This video is so over dramatic it’s pathetic… Fear monger not my brethren! Rusty tractors and non radioactive reactor water WILL NOT destroy Greenland… The “Climate models” (that are consistently WRONG) have offered little to no understanding of the earths natural climate shift… This is just a crowd funding ploy, so support this guys habit of fuckin off!


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