Scientists fear that nuclear waste dating back from the Cold War could be exposed in an army base in Greenland as temperatures soar around the world.
Decommissioned in 1967, US Camp Century was left almost fully intact over the assumption that it would be forever buried in the snow.
Unfortunately, radioactive coolant, tens of thousands of gallons of sewage and diesel fuel, alongside tonnes of PCBs could soon start to break the surface – despite nuclear waste being buried in a series of tunnels 50 feet underground.
Although officially, the base was used as a scientific centre, it was also a top-secret nuclear missile testing site that operated with the intention of building launch sites that could reach the Soviet Union.
But a peer review, published last Thursday in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, has warned that ice is now melting at a faster rate than snow is falling on top.
According to the paper, if rising temperatures continue on their current course, the toxic waste material could find itself spilled into the oceans before the end of the century.
Liam Coglan, a climate scientist at York University in Toronto, and lead author of the study, said that, “two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world,” and that “climate change is now modifying those sites.”
He said that the ice sheet that sits on Greenland is today melting at a rate of 8,000 tonnes per second.
Rectifying the issue however, also presents a political challenge as the US built the base with permission from Denmark, but did not receive permission for missile testing. Today Greenland is self-governing.
Mike MacFerrin, a study co-author, said that, “Nato allies really need to demonstrate that they have a good closure plans to deal with their legacies of abandoned bases.”
In related news, melting permafrost in Siberia has led to an outbreak of anthrax that has left 13 people in hospital. The outbreak is thought to stem from a reindeer carcass that died in 1941.
The Siberian Times has also claimed that up to 1,500 reindeer have died since July 24.