A Soviet-era SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile is set to crash in Canada’s Arctic, with some highly toxic fuel on board.
Michael Byers, National Post, 19 May 2016
The missile, modified to boost a satellite into orbit, will be launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia in early June. Minutes later, the first stage of the missile will plummet into the Barents Sea north of Norway. Shortly thereafter, the second stage of the missile will fall into Baffin Bay, just east of Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
That second stage could have hundreds of litres of leftover fuel on board. Rockets used for satellite launches rarely consume all their fuel because they are shut down by onboard computers once the desired speed and altitude are achieved.
The fuel used to power SS-19s is unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (hydrazine). A stable compound used to fuel missiles and power the thrusters used for manoeuvring satellites in space, hydrazine is so toxic that technicians wear pressurized hazmat suits when working with it. On contact with air, hydrazine degrades into another, even more toxic compound: nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
A faded, wind-torn Danish flag is mounted on the wall in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Raised on Hans Island by Danish troops, the flag was later taken down by Canadian soldiers — and mailed back to Copenhagen.
Why it's misleading for PM to imply international law will put the Arctic landmark on Canada's map.
Michael Byers, TheTyee.ca , 24 December 2013
Santa Claus is magic. How else could he live at the North Pole, above 4000 metres of frigid water?
The North Pole, indeed, is located near the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Covered by drifting sea-ice, pummeled by high winds, it receives no sunlight for several months a year and is regularly exposed to temperatures of minus 50 degrees.
Cooperation between countries is helping to develop an Arctic rulebook
Michael Byers, The World Today, August-September 2013, Vol 69, No 7
In Moscow, a map produced by the Canadian Department of Natural Resources has pride of place in Arctic Ambassador Anton Vasiliev’s office in the Stalinist-era skyscraper that houses the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The choice of wall décor reflects the fact that Russia and Canada are predominately influential in the Arctic, together with the United States. It also indicates how climate change and rising demand for natural resources has propelled the Arctic into the mainstream of international diplomacy.
An agreement on a decades-old maritime boundary dispute with Denmark could be a sign that Canada is serious about its plan to resolve competing claims in the north, researchers suggest.
Negotiators have a tentative plan to address ownership of two small patches of water totalling less than 225 square kilometres in the Lincoln Sea, an area of the Arctic Ocean north of Ellesmere Island and Greenland. There is still, however, no resolution over Hans Island, as well as several boundary disputes with the United States in the Arctic and further south.
“What we’re seeing here is the Harper government signalling a willingness to resolve disputes with other Arctic countries, and that is very significant,” said Michael Byers, a professor at the University of British Columbia who holds a Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law.
But the ownership of tiny Hans Island is still "the subject of continuing discussion"
Nunatsiaq News, 29 November 2012
The ownership of Hans Island, a disputed 1.3 square-kilometre rock between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, remains unsettled, even after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, who is also minister of the Arctic Council for Canada, and Villy Søvndal, the Danish minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark, met Nov. 28 in Ottawa.
But the ministers did come out of their talks to announce they had reached an agreement on where to establish the maritime boundary in the Lincoln Sea, the body of water north of Ellesmere Island and Greenland, they said.
Armed forces called in to prevent environmentalists interfering with Cairn Energy's exploration of Arctic waters
John Vidal, The Guardian, May 24, 2011
Armed Danish commandos are thought to have been landed on a giant oil rig by helicopter to prevent environmentalists interfering with a British oil company's controversial exploration of deep Arctic waters. In a stand-off in the Davis Strait, west of Greenland, the Danish navy has been shadowing the Greenpeace ship Esperanza as it tracked the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson in iceberg-strewn sea to the site where it plans to search for oil at depths of up to 5,000ft.
Negotiators are now confident that Canada and Denmark will resolve their dispute over Hans Island, and sooner rather than later.
Relations between the two countries have grown irritable at times in recent years because of their competing claims to the barren bit of rock perched halfway between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Also in dispute is a patch of the Lincoln Sea even farther north.
But the two countries are in negotiations and have embarked on a joint mapping exercise, and both Canadian and Danish officials, speaking on background, said they were confident of reaching an agreement before Canada deposits its claim over the Arctic seabed to the United Nations in 2013.
Shared jurisdiction of the island is one possibility; another is running the border down the middle of the uninhabited, 1.3-square-kilometre knoll, which would give Canada a land border with Denmark.
Members of the Canadian Forces during a visit to Hans Island in July 2005. Photograph by: Handout/DND
John Ivison, National Post, November 9, 2010
OTTAWA — Canada is likely to have a second land border in the near future — this time with a European country. The 37-year dispute with Denmark over Hans Island, a small, uninhabited knoll located between Ellesmere Island and northern Greenland, is close to being concluded, according to the Danish Defence Minister.