Iceworm Project, 1960s

Iceworm Project, 1960s

On January 21, 1968, a plane crashed near the Thule airbase in Greenland. B – 52 US Air Force carried 4 fusion bombs on board. Declassified in 1995, documents on this catastrophe, among other things, lifted the veil of secrecy over one of the most amazing projects of the Cold War.

4000 kilometers of tunnels under the ice, 600 ballistic missiles aimed at the USSR, and all this is heated and illuminated by portable nuclear reactors - this was the embodiment of the project "Iceworm" - "Iceworm". Camp Century, 240 kilometers from Tule airbase in Greenland, has become a platform for developing technology. In Denmark, which owns Greenland, it is unlikely that they would have been delighted by the neighborhood of an ice-covered anthill full of nuclear missiles, so at the beginning, Camp Century was introduced as a research center for studying climate change. Welcome from the Danes was received and in June 1959 the construction of a boil over boil at +5 - the average June temperature in those parts.1

Hand-made materials - snow and ice - were used at the construction site in full growth.What — what, and there is plenty of such good in Greenland. The main tool was the Swiss snow removal machine "Peter Plows", designed for cleaning snow from roads in the Alps.23

In the thickness of the ice gradually grew the whole city. The largest of the tunnels, called Main Street, was almost 350 meters long, 8 meters wide and 8.5 meters high. In the lanes, departing from Main Street, hiding ordinary shield houses. The layer of air between the walls of the tunnel and the walls of the house was supposed to protect the tunnel from melting. One of the main problems that builders had to struggle with was, strangely enough, not low temperature, but high temperature. Simply put, it was still melting in the tunnels. The solution was the wells dug here and there at a depth of twelve meters, from where cold air flowed.45
Drilling rig
Completed in 1960, Camp Century had everything needed for year-round staff. A shop, a church, a hairdresser, showers, a post office, a gym, a club - all these are ordinary things in general, just located in an unusual place. In total, up to 200 people and one dog could work at the base - Mukluk the Husky brought here at the age of three months.6

Envelope with stamp "Camp Century"7

Base plan
The first-ever portable nuclear reactor in the history of the base was the most expensive part of the base, Alco PM-2A costing $ 5,700,000 (Camp Century cost Uncle Sam $ 7,920,000). The reactor was developed as part of the army’s nuclear energy program. He was brought to Greenland in a disassembled form on July 10, 1960 and was assembled directly at Camp Century. Moreover, part of the reactor was delivered by C-124 Globemaster aircraft to demonstrate the practical feasibility of such shipments. The assembly itself took 77 days from the military. The reactor could produce power up to 1,560 kW, while the needs of the base amounted to a maximum of 500. 180,000 liters of liquid radioactive waste during the operation of the reactor were simply poured onto the ice.8910

In October 1960, two boy scouts were brought to the base, Kent Göring from the United States and Dane Soren Gregersen, selected as assistant engineers. The guys stayed at the base for five months. According to Goering, the main lesson for him was "how to coexist with other people in isolation, at close range, every minute, every day for several months."11
Goering, Gregersen and some guy
According to the calculations of the military, "Camp Century" could be operated for about ten years, but, as often happens, the calculations were not justified. By 1964, it became clear that the movement of snow masses does not leave a base of chances.The personnel were evacuated, the reactor was dismantled and taken out, and most of the equipment remained lying in the snow. Until 1967, the military occasionally used Camp Century, but in the end they abandoned it altogether. And the whole program has gone to no.12
It looked like one of the tunnels in 1969
In 1995, a scandal erupted over a plane crash over the base of Thule. The Danish Parliament has initiated a study of the history of the use of nuclear weapons in Greenland, and in this study information about Camp Century has come up. And now a new scandal is breaking out. It was assumed that abandoned waste (including radioactive) will be buried under a layer of ice. Alas, it seems, the assumptions are again not justified. By the end of the century, due to the increase in temperature, the base will begin to thaw.

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  • Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s

    Iceworm Project, 1960s