The Catacombs The Continuity Guide
Moonbase Guide
Nuclear Disposal Areas
by Martin Willey

Nuclear Disposal Area 2

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Nuclear Disposal Area 2 opened in 1994 and was operating for 5 years before it exploded on September 13th 1999, blasting the Moon out of Earth orbit. Activities were monitored from the Monitoring Depot.

The site is much bigger than Area 1 (140 times as much nuclear waste), and unlike the earlier construction it includes synthocrete radiation covers and a perimeter laser fence.

The cross-shaped area has 35 silo caps. There are 12 silo caps each in the "west" and "south" wings (left and closest to camera). The "north" wing has 7 silo caps. The "east" wing (on the right) only contains 4 caps. This wing has 6 black circles, which may be temporary caps which aren't filled yet.

There were three scales of SFX model: one for the full NDA2, one featuring the central hub with the 22" Eagle, a wing with the moonbuggy (seen briefly in the Jackson and Ellis sequence), and large sections of the silos caps, cans and barriers in scale with the 44" Eagle.

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Overview of Area 2 in the opening sequence of Breakaway.

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A publicity shot showing Area 2. There is an Eagle cargo pallet on the landing pad by the central hub.

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The left to right pan originally included the Monitoring Depot (which is raised on a mound). The end part was filmed, but cut.

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In this view you can see three monitoring depots: one in foreground, and two on the far sides of Area 2.

Below: publicity photos of NDA 2 from the Monitoring Depot

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When Collins lands his Eagle, the launch pad is close to the corner of one wing; the full model shows no launch pad. The window shows the wrong angle to be in the monitoring depot.

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There are three or four round monitoring depot buildings, on opposite corners of Area 2. The north-west one is barely visible on screen; the south-east one is only seen on its own. Presumably there is another in the unseen south-west corner. Some of the depots may be inactive. As the operations move from one wing to another, the workers at the base may move to the nearest depot, leaving the others as empty shells, except for automatic flight control information required by the Eagles.

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NDA 2 as the waste is dispersed.

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The north-east monitoring depot is just visible as NDA2 starts to explode. While the cans were being dispersed, there was an Eagle cargo pallet alongside the hub. When it starts to explode the pallet has gone.

An Eagle with cargo pallet unloads nuclear waste cans into the central hub, which automatically loads them into the deep silos. The hub has tracked legs which could move on large rails (the tracked wheels are only visible on the side facing the camera- they are absent on the opposite side). The hub has a tall elevator that carries waste cans down into a central silo. The central silo is much wider than the other silos. The tracks and rails suggest the hub can move, but the rail isn't long. Perhaps the cans are distributed through underground galleries to the smaller, more peripheral silos.

There were two SFX models of the hub, a larger one is scale with the 22" Eagle, and a smaller one for the entire NDA2.

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The waste cans and silo caps. Each silo contains 12 cans per row, with many rows.

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Close up photos of the 44inch- scale silo caps, numbered "24" and "28". Only "24" actually has a silo with cans underneath; "28" has a fake top layer.

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Unused SFX shot of the moonbuggy. We see another angle of this shot in the episode, when Jackson and Ellis enter NDA 2.

Laser fence

Why such security on the far side of the Moon only accessible to technicians? The other areas such as NDA 1 do not have any visible barriers.

NDA 2 has radioactive waste arriving and being stored, while NDA 1 is inactive and has no exposed waste cans. Perhaps NDA 1 had a laser fence when it was active. When the waste is sealed and NDA 1 shut down, the fence was removed.

Why is a lethal laser fence needed for an active site? Later episodes establish there was a world war in the 1980s, and the existence of Hawks suggest significant military technology in space. Therefore the was a perceived threat, and the response could be a laser fence and armed security guards stationed at the monitoring depots. The response may be a political one, an unrealistic measure for a threat that is not credible. This "security theatre" would exist only to reassure the public that the waste was safe.

Another possibility is that the fence is not intended to keep anybody out. Instead, it exists as a kind of anti-radiation fence. If there are radiation leaks in NDA 2, the high energy lasers will stop ionizing particles leaving the area and affecting the people at the monitoring depots.

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A sequence was filmed showing the cans colliding with the laser fence and exploding (it can be viewed in the This Episode titles).

Studio set

The interior of the disposal area. This area is cluttered with boxes, crates, blue tubing and yellow bins (roadside grit bins, common in the UK). There are several cameras and a parabolic antenna. NDA 1 is said to have had artificial gravity; evidently NDA 2 does not (except in the monitoring depot).

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Publicity photos of the full size set. Unlike the model set, there are large rocks and hills immediately outside the laser fence (to hide the edge of the set).

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This pedestal is some sort of control panel. The astronauts insert a key (the prop is literally a Yale-type key) to use it.

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Copyright Martin Willey