Articles, Blog

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

August 21, 2019

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 “Now here this..all control rods withdrawn,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.”


  • Reply xxxxCronoxxxx March 22, 2019 at 6:47 am

    it sounds a lot like they have no clue whats under their. just a lot of assumptions.

  • Reply billy the boxer , March 22, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Merica Fawk yeah!

  • Reply Thomas Bayless March 24, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Basically, we have screwed ourselves ever since we knew about plutonium and uranium.

  • Reply Thomas Bayless March 24, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Who cares about who is responsible for it? Somebody just needs to step up and clean it up.

  • Reply ooJiraiyaSama March 25, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Good job USA Government for detroying the planet a little bit more, once again..

  • Reply dts March 26, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    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.

  • Reply Orc Computers March 27, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    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??

  • Reply Joseph Wasson March 31, 2019 at 2:38 pm


  • Reply aat karelse April 1, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    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 !

  • Reply darren marchant April 3, 2019 at 12:49 am

    dig down and get the debris.

  • Reply darren marchant April 3, 2019 at 12:51 am

    map the radioactive debris.

  • Reply JJ Supreme April 3, 2019 at 10:00 am

    6:68 WHO?! America OBVIOUSLY!!

  • Reply Icepacalypse johnson April 3, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    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.

  • Reply Tyler Smith April 4, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Basically, the US f**king up other countries, again, for the millionth time

  • Reply Pal Adino April 5, 2019 at 6:10 am

    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.

  • Reply Robert H April 6, 2019 at 2:23 am

    U.S owns the world you cunts. Accept it. 🇺🇸

  • Reply Mr.Techaky April 7, 2019 at 6:03 am

    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?

  • Reply Obsevant1 April 7, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    F U and your Paris agreement!!!

  • Reply Bailey Pup April 7, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    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

  • Reply Tim Carr April 8, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Yeah, man playing God and destroying mankind.

  • Reply Rose White April 9, 2019 at 8:19 am

    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.

  • Reply Simon M April 9, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    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

  • Reply George Zaharia April 9, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    1:58 business must be booming for that barbershop owner!

  • Reply Mikki -wolfy- Yeong April 11, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    Damned americans and their rotten nuclear junk…..

  • Reply Won Lung April 12, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Ill move in 2maro

  • Reply David Brandenburg April 14, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    our rocket scientist were the ones who wanted a reactor, and we built it so we should clean it up!.

  • Reply Countrybananas April 17, 2019 at 3:16 am

    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.

  • Reply gunnar nesheim April 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    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;)

  • Reply Eugene Buckley April 25, 2019 at 11:29 pm


  • Reply Eugene Buckley April 25, 2019 at 11:31 pm

  • Reply Rye Jessen April 28, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Shit like this makes me very proud not to be an American

  • Reply Sion Goodier May 1, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Gov makes a mess people clean the mess up and pay out through taxes

  • Reply tommkone May 4, 2019 at 2:47 am

    Global Warming /Climate Change … heat up , cool down it's called weather…. stop the Bullshit!

  • Reply Gacha Caring May 12, 2019 at 12:12 am

    ???: This is the story of….
    Me: I feel like I'm in the 80's or 1981 right now….

  • Reply beatriz viacava-goulet May 15, 2019 at 8:30 pm

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

  • Reply Jerry Andrade May 21, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I agree but we have a retarded President that thinks weather is the same an climate change

  • Reply crusade music records May 21, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    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

  • Reply Thomas Wood May 24, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    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.

  • Reply STEVEN WORTON May 24, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    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

  • Reply JasJones123 May 26, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    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.

  • Reply Jawad Ali May 26, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Wherever Americans go they leave there shit.

  • Reply Laser Wood Shapes May 29, 2019 at 1:04 am

    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.

  • Reply japrogramer May 31, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    A recipe for disaster. They knew this would happen.

  • Reply THE GREEN MACHINE June 3, 2019 at 2:23 pm

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

  • Reply Mr. Oddly Fox June 4, 2019 at 12:31 am

    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.

  • Reply spikedpsycho June 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    The WIPP has adequate storage for any radioactive waste

  • Reply CapoNy capo June 10, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    My farther was stationed there . He was a machine operator

  • Reply Jf aamand June 12, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Imagine the US pigs cleaning up after themselves. What a naive idea

  • Reply G. Warren June 13, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Should dump trump supporters there

  • Reply qtpie June 14, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    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?

  • Reply Cameron Vessey June 15, 2019 at 5:04 am

    b.S predictions for Bullishit scare tactics

  • Reply Christ Jim June 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    All three should clean it

  • Reply Warfeist June 17, 2019 at 6:26 pm

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

  • Reply Sam Lutfi June 18, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Clearly Mexico should pay

  • Reply Donald Kasper June 19, 2019 at 12:01 am

    In 50 years, now buried 100 feet below ground, but it might thaw out some day. OOOOOH.

  • Reply Donald Kasper June 19, 2019 at 12:01 am

    "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.

  • Reply Dell12 16 June 21, 2019 at 3:32 am

    Obviously the US has to clean it up, it’s their mess for God’s sake their is no question who has to clean it up.

  • Reply Imran Nazir June 24, 2019 at 2:22 am

    The govt that did have to clean up these waste before it's too late.
    Because one ice melts, there will be no way to clean up.

  • Reply Lee James June 26, 2019 at 4:26 am

    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.

  • Reply B Dub June 26, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Just drop a Nuke on it!!

  • Reply B Dub June 26, 2019 at 9:19 am

    I don't think I have ever read some much bitching and whining in my life. You guys should just go tell your mom or something god!

  • Reply Hwangster July 1, 2019 at 4:08 am

    U.S if it ain't on our soil, ain't our problem. LOL typical USA

  • Reply Thomas Anderson July 3, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    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.)

  • Reply Brian Fike July 4, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Look at all the idiots buying this bullshit.

  • Reply Ricky Tenderkiss July 4, 2019 at 9:23 am


  • Reply Wessel van der Berg July 5, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Yet another american nuclear disaster. When will you people finally pay for your crimes.

  • Reply Wessel van der Berg July 5, 2019 at 12:50 am

    The world is bigger than america. We should sanction you. Bastards!

  • Reply Palm Olive July 6, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    i wonder how far humans will go to destroy our only home….earth…🤔

  • Reply Kel Lazell July 7, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Interesting vid but what a boring horrible job these people have having to go to a cold snow filled hell hole like that

  • Reply Clinton Barbee July 7, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    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.

  • Reply T.Jentzsch July 7, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    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…

  • Reply Gavin Church July 8, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    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

  • Reply Jonathan Estes July 9, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    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?

  • Reply Peter Peterson July 9, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    REMEMBER: Man made climate change is a hoax.

  • Reply David Matty July 10, 2019 at 4:39 am

    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..

  • Reply catklyst July 10, 2019 at 12:46 pm


  • Reply Samuel Thompson July 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    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

  • Reply Ajay Malik July 10, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Us is going to end this earth someday in future, mark this comment

  • Reply Truth Or consequences July 10, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    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

  • Reply Mr Orphy July 10, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Greenland looks very white, while Iceland is waving at you proud being green. hehehe

  • Reply Darcy Klyne July 10, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    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

  • Reply Bruce Willey July 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    typical American arrogance ,let Denmark Lockean it up and send them the bill

  • Reply Guy Tetreault July 11, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Agolf TwHittler TRUMP will build a wall there and AMERICA WILL BE GREAT AGAIN 😶😶😶 !!!

  • Reply Manol Bello July 11, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    How many videos on YouTube out there left without involving the US on a very negative way!?

  • Reply michael smith July 11, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    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!

  • Reply John K July 12, 2019 at 11:07 am

    United States is best nation on the earth 🌎🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸.

  • Reply Charles Show July 13, 2019 at 3:16 pm


  • Reply Silence Dogood July 20, 2019 at 1:47 am

    You lost me at the Paris Agreement….

  • Reply Arun Kp July 27, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    America 😤😤😤

  • Reply macro deth August 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Yea… this is gonna be a problemo.

  • Reply Juan Pablo Telleria August 2, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    I blame most of today's problems on the cold war generation and older generations

  • Reply Create -Space August 7, 2019 at 12:11 am

    We made it well.

  • Reply Jim Inverness August 8, 2019 at 1:16 am

    It could house up to 200 people, and you call that a CITY? It's barely a village or small town.

  • Reply Vision Electric Solutions PE August 11, 2019 at 8:01 am

    The USA would put economic sanctions on any other nation if they did this

  • Reply Nathan Shearer August 12, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Based on the bs we have been feed, shouldn't this already be exposed?

  • Reply Don Elliott August 12, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Hilarious. "if we go with the Paris accords we will avert catastrophe", TOTAL BS. just another slug trying to justify funding.

  • Reply Shattered Star August 18, 2019 at 3:28 am

    Easy solution for Denmark, sell Greenland to the US and it won't be their problem anymore

  • Reply Prince Chawmin August 18, 2019 at 5:21 am

    MARS?? YOUJ WANNA GO TO MARS?? NNNNO! YA DONT GO TO MARS UNTIL YOU CLEAN THIS PLACE UP FIRST. Well just mess Mars up too. Your leader wants to BUY GREENLAND. But we have homeless and poverty here at home. A WHOLE COUNTRY ! We polluted it so bad they dont want it and wanna sue us.

  • Reply Ross Harris August 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    All, who were there. Are responsible for the safety of their neighbors Matthew 22:39; Mt.7:12. One would think they want a clean Earth.

  • Reply TORONTO LIVING AND LIVING IN TORONTO TORONTO August 19, 2019 at 3:23 pm


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