Saturday open thread for night owls: Secret, abandoned U.S. nuclear ice base a pollution threat
At Atlas Obscura, Sarah Laskow writes—America’s Secret Nuclear Ice Base in Greenland Won’t Stay Frozen Forever:
THE CREATION OF CAMP CENTURY, from the outset, was an audacious scheme. Under the thick ice of Greenland, a scant 800 miles from the North Pole, the U.S. military built a hidden base of ice tunnels, imagined as an extensive network of railway tracks, stretching over 2,500 miles, that would keep 600 nuclear missiles buried under the ice. Construction began in 1959, under cover of a scientific research project, and soon a small installation, powered by a nuclear reactor, nested in the ice sheet.
In the midst of the Cold War, Greenland seemed like a strategic point for the U.S. to stage weapons, ready to attack the U.S.S.R. The thick ice sheet, military planners imagined, would provide permanent protection for the base. But after the first tunnels were built, the military discovered that the ice sheet was not as stable as it needed to be: It moved and shifted, destabilizing the tunnels. Within a decade, Camp Century was abandoned.
When siting the secret ice base, the military chose a spot where dry snow kept the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet from melting, and when the base was abandoned its creators expected the remains to stay encased in ice forever. But decades later, conditions have changed, and as a team of researchers reported in a 2016 paper, published in Geophysical Research Letters, the now-melting ice sheet threatens to mobilize the dangerous pollutants left behind. [...]
By the time the base was abandoned in 1967, it had its own library and theater, an infirmary, kitchen and mess hall, a chapel, and two power plants (one nuclear, one run on diesel). When the base closed, key parts of the nuclear power plant were removed, but most of the base’s infrastructure was left behind—the buildings, the railways, the sewage, the diesel fuel, and the low-level radioactive waste. In the 2016 paper, which Colgan worked on as well, the researchers suggested that the radiological waste was less worrisome than the more extensive chemical waste, from diesel fuel and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used to insulate fluids and paints.
Overall, the researchers estimated that 20,000 liters of chemical waste remain at the Camp Century site, along with 24 million liters of “biological waste associated with untreated sewage.” [...]
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BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2014—Woman in debunked Obamacare horror story finally speaks ... to Fox News:
The subject of the latest debunked Obamacare horror story is finally talking, and of course it's to Fox News. Julie Boonstra is a Michigan resident with leukemia, and she appeared in an Americans For Prosperity ad against Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters, saying that Obamacare made her cancer treatment unaffordable because of out of pocket spending. Subsequent fact checking, though, found that her monthly premium payments were essentially cut in half, and the limits the law imposes on out of pocket expenses means that at worse, she'd break even between those costs and her premium saving. The ad also implied she lost access to her doctor, though fact checking determined that her doctor is included in the plan she picked on the exchange.
So with no real basis to the story she presented in the ad, how does Boonstra respond? The only way she can, the way Republicans always go, playing the victim.
«They're not scaring me. Cancer scares me,» she said. «I battle cancer every day. They're not going to intimidate me.» [...]
«Under my old policy, I knew what I could afford every single month because I wasn't hit with extra charges. Now I don't know what I have to pay month to month,» she said. «Leukemia tests are extremely expensive.»
Just to set the record straight, pointing out factual inconsistencies is not intimidation.
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