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Camp Century was shut down in 1967, and the site was abandoned as Project Iceworm wound down. Back then, military planners assumed the hazardous stuff buried at Camp Century—including diesel fuel, PCBs, and some radioactive coolant—would stay locked up in the Greenland ice sheet, essentially forever. But now Greenland is warming because of climate change. Dangerous contaminants threaten to re-emerge from the ice, potentially putting people in Greenland and maybe as far away as Arctic Canada (400 km offshore) at risk.
Politicians, meanwhile, have yet to sort out exactly what to do about the threat posed by climate change to military installations abroad, each one governed by what Colgan calls “ad hoc” arrangements. Colgan noted that the US Pentagon, at least, does seem to appreciate the dangers of climate change. Of the hundreds of US bases overseas, “it’s unclear how many of them are at the frontlines of climate change, like Greenland,” he said, adding that other sites, like low-lying Pacific islands, are also certain to be impacted.