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The Military Science

Greenland Is Very Mad About the Toxic Waste the US Left Buried Under Its Ice (vice.com) 208

Kate Lunau, reporting Motherboard:Greenland isn't happy about being treated as a dumping ground for abandoned US military bases established at the height of the Cold War -- and in a newspaper editorial, it's calling on Denmark to deal with the mess left behind by the Americans, since the Danish long ago took responsibility for them. This editorial notes that, after decades, Greenland is "losing its patience." One of the abandoned bases, called Camp Century, is full of nasty chemicals and some radioactive material, as Motherboard previously reported. At Camp Century, which was built in 1959, soldiers called "Iceworms" practiced deployment of missiles against Russia and literally lived inside the ice. When the US decommissioned the base in the 1960s, the military left basically everything behind, thinking that its waste would stay locked up in the Greenland ice sheet forever. Well, climate change has made that unlikely. Melting ice threatens to expose all kinds of toxic debris in decades to come, and Greenland wants it cleaned up, now.
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Greenland Is Very Mad About the Toxic Waste the US Left Buried Under Its Ice

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  • clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @08:40AM (#53084951) Homepage
    Americans can be forgiven for being remiss about this, as this was nuclear and defense research in arctic climates related to the US ability to ward off an impending attack over alaska. We learned we could indeed install nuclear reactors and war bases in the tundra, however we unfortunately learned that cooling these reactors and ensuring they stayed in one place was a completely untenable matter.

    the most damning part of this research was that it took place without Greenlands consent. these were secret bases established on remote areas of Greenland that existed for only three to six months before disappearing entirely. The cleanup is nontrivial amounts of chemical and nuclear material. As an american i feel we have a duty to clean this up, but as an american I also understand there isnt much impetus to get us to do anything responsible after the fact.
    • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @09:02AM (#53085015) Homepage

      ...the most damning part of this research was that it took place without Greenlands consent....

      As the article points out, Greenland wasn't independent at the time; it was a possession of Denmark; and the bases were done with Denmark's knowledge and cooperation.

      • ...the most damning part of this research was that it took place without Greenlands consent....

        As the article points out, Greenland wasn't independent at the time; it was a possession of Denmark; and the bases were done with Denmark's knowledge and cooperation.

        Exactly. When a country achieves independence from another, or acquires territory in other ways, it is generally accepted that they get the land AS IS. If there are any hidden surprises, it's now ultimately Greenland's responsibility. It's no different than if you buy a house and discover after the fact that there are toxic chemicals buried in the back yard that require costly cleanup. It is the responsibility of the current house's owner, not the previous owners of the property, to clean up the mess.

        • by Sabriel ( 134364 )

          It's no different than if you buy a house and discover after the fact that there are toxic chemicals buried in the back yard that require costly cleanup. It is the responsibility of the current house's owner, not the previous owners of the property, to clean up the mess.

          That actually varies by country. In mine, the previous owners would still be held responsible for their own actions, face fines and/or imprisonment under various health and safety laws concerning the unsafe disposal, and I could bring suit t

      • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

        Greenland wasn't independent at the time; it was a possession of Denmark

        Greenland remains a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, albeit with substantial autonomy. Foreign affairs and security remain the responsibility of the Danish government. The situation hasn't changed drastically since 1397.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Before I get worked up about this, I'd like to know what the damage is. Plants affected, wildlife in danger, people who want to settle there? Greenland is the least densely populated country on earth. Not having dug into the details yet, I immediately suspect there's a reasonable chance that this will affect very little if we just left it there.

      I'm also inclined to say that if they want our military to clean up after themselves, they first owe us some back payment for the decades of protection after the
      • Re:clarification (Score:4, Insightful)

        by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @09:44AM (#53085181)
        I think there's a few observations to make here. First, it is ultimately the US who caused the problem, though with the permission of Denmark. Second, it is not much of a problem at present nor would be much of a problem at any point in the future. Third, it would be particularly expensive to clean up at present. I think even Greenland could think of better things to do than clean up this particular mess.

        I would take environmentalism more seriously, if its adherents knew how to prioritize.
        • Re:clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HiThere ( 15173 ) <`ten.knilhtrae' `ta' `nsxihselrahc'> on Sunday October 16, 2016 @03:02PM (#53086757)

          When you say:
          I would take environmentalism more seriously, if its adherents knew how to prioritize.
          you actually mean if their priorities agreed with yours.

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            you actually mean if their priorities agreed with yours.

            Obviously, I disagree and Slashdot reaction to this story is an example of why I do. Notice this following quote:

            "I think itâ(TM)s very understandable that the Greenland government wants to get some answers on whoâ(TM)s accountable, and who will ultimately bear financial cost of any potential remediation," said Jeff Colgan, a professor of political science at Brown University and an author of the paper that highlighted the problem with Camp Century.

            "At the same time, we expect itâ(TM)s a problem that will take decades to resurface," he told me. "The immediate focus should be monitoring and research."

            That's not how it's being spun in this discussion. The US made a mess and they need to clean it up, in one case within the month or Greenland should ship the waste to the US.

      • Well, apparently it is a threat to a block of ice, some activists and reporters. Maybe we should send more activists and reporters there and just forget to go and get them again.
    • Re:clarification (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @09:29AM (#53085127)

      the most damning part of this research was that it took place without Greenlands consent

      Greenland was part of Denmark, and it was the Danish government making these decisions. Denmark was part of NATO and had given Americans permission to establish air bases.

      (Note that at the time, Denmark was actively trying to destroy the native Greenland culture.)

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @09:15AM (#53085071) Journal

    It shows how rigged this whole thing is that they have a place that's covered in ice and call it "Greenland". Completely rigged. The crooked media doesn't want you to know that it's covered in ice. It's a disgrace.

    When I'm president, we'll make Greenland green again. There will be the most beautiful golf courses in Greenland, believe me.

    • by pellik ( 193063 )
      Deport the illegal ice to iceland where it belongs.
  • by Diac ( 1515711 ) on Sunday October 16, 2016 @09:33AM (#53085139)

    Greenland is mostly covered with Ice but Iceland is very green.

    Maybe do a name switch?

  • And dump it on the beach near new york.
    Problem solved.
    • A shipping container? Dude, it is Greenland. They can calve the waste into an ice berg and send it down the coast by itself.
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Which way do the currents flow? They *could* do that, but if they wanted to reach New York they'd better put a motor on it.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Nah. Dump it in Southern CA(lifornia)'s beaches like Newport Beach. ;)

  • The glacier were and are moving. That was one of the things that killed Camp Century to begin with.

  • From the TFA: "Maybe in a century, theyâ(TM)re going to start to melt out."

    Whoa, now there is a real crisis. MAYBE in a CENTURY there will start to be problems! Act now, save no expense!!!!

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