A Russian rocket carrying highly toxic chemicals is expected to crash in Canada's Arctic waters this weekend.
The warning was issued late last week by the international civil aviation authority. It said that the Russian rocket would be falling into Baffin Bay, just between Greenland and Ellesmere Island.
While the rocket is expected to fall outside Canada's territorial waters, the impact would still be within the seas where Canada exercises economic control.
The projected impact is also within the ice-free North Water Polynya, a renowned animal hotspot. Polar bears and whales, as well as cod and seabirds, can be found in these waters.
Alex Speers-Roesch, a campaigner for Greenpeace Arctic said that the concept of dropping a missile carrying toxic chemicals near Baffin Island is "just as preposterous as drilling for oil there."
Canada said Russia did not give enough warning about the incoming rocket stage.
"We have stressed to the Government of Russia the need for greater advance warning of planned launches to ensure that all precautions, relating both to the safety and security of our airspace and any potential environmental concerns, can be appropriately addressed," said Global Affairs Canada spokesman Austin Jean in an emailed statement.
However, according to the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, the Canadian federal government had been informed about the rocket launch.
"The Canadian side was informed it would be done in a way that no territory of Canada or its territorial waters would be affected while the fuel of disposed rocket stages fully burn out," stated the embassy's press secretary Kirill Kalinin in an email.
In the statement, Kalinin stressed that environmental concerns were "seriously taken into account."
The Russian rocket in question is said to be powered by hydrazine, a highly toxic chemical. Only two countries in the world continue to use hydrazine as rocket fuel.
The rocket launch was part of Russia's Rokot program, which is a commercial satellite launch service. The program repurposes Cold War-era ballistic SS-19 missiles to launch the commercial satellites.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr