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Greenland wants clean-up of U.S. military sites


Code-named, “Project Iceworm,” the Cold War-era, top-secret U.S. Army program attempted to build a network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The ultimate objective of placing medium-range missiles under the ice — close enough to strike targets within the Soviet Union — was kept secret from the Danish government. To study the feasibility of working under the ice, a highly publicized "cover" project, known as Camp Century, was launched in 1960. Unsteady ice conditions within the ice sheet caused the project to be canceled in 1966.

Greenland has asked Denmark to clean up an abandoned under-ice missile site as well as other abandoned U.S. military installations. In a deal brokered in 1951, NATO member Denmark allowed the U.S. to build 33 bases and radar stations in the former Danish province. The deal didn’t specify any protocol for clean-up, however.

Greenland local politicians have asked Denmark to remove all of the material that the United States abandoned after the end of the Cold War — including Camp Century, a never-completed cover site for the nuclear missile deployment aimed at the Soviet Union.


Jun. 06, 1959 - a logistical overland cargo train at Camp Century, Greenland

Built under the ice cap in northwestern Greenland to test sub-ice construction techniques during 1959-'60, Camp Century was considered to be “top secret.” Unofficially, the camp was going to be a hidden launch site for ballistic missiles. The project was abandoned in 1966 because the ice cap began to crush the camp. The U.S. did remove a portable nuclear reactor, but abandoned an estimated 200,000 liters of diesel oil and sewage, as well as the structures themselves.

At a meeting on Nov. 17, 2016, in Nuuk, the Greenland capital, Denmark's Environment Ministry said it was investigating the environmental risks of the abandoned camp.

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