Catacombs Moonbase Alpha Operational Guide


The civilian nuclear power industry was discredited in the 1980s by a series of disasters that included Sellafield, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The 1987 wars damaged and destroyed other plants, and the nuclear weapons used in the various conflicts and terrorist actions contributed to public and political fears of nuclear power. In late 1987 American, Soviet and EC authorities banned civilian nuclear power and ordered the decommissioning of all existing plants.

It became clear that disposal of nuclear wastes in oceans, or in geological formations on land, was environmentally and politically unacceptable. With high quantities of existing wastes in temporary storage, and materials from the dismantling of plants being created, an urgent solution was required. With the low cost, reliable transport of the Falcon and Hyperion ground to orbit shuttles, the Moon became a viable option for disposal.

High and intermediate level radioactive wastes from around the world are processed at the Keyes Point Energy Centre in Australia. The wastes are concentrated and vitrified, being cast in stainless steel- nimonic 90 alloy canisters and enclosed in a synthocrete shield. These canisters, 2 metres tall and 2 metres in diameter, are transported in cylinders of thirty to orbit by Falcon shuttles. Eagles then tow them to the Moon, soft landing the cylinders in craters on the far side. The cylinders are opened, and the canisters placed on cargo platforms and taken for burial in silos. When filled, silos are capped with synthocrete radiation covers. Earlier silos were capped by mounds of lunar regolith. Most handling of wastes is by remote handling equipment or fully automatic mechanisms. Radiation levels are closely monitored.

Earlier wastes were largely fission products and actinides from used fuel. Since 1997 the proportion of activation products has increased as the dismantling of nuclear plants reaches the biological shields and pressure vessels.

There are two main Nuclear waste Disposal Areas (NDAs).

Two additional experimental waste dumps exist.


In September 1999 the atomic waste in the two principle Disposal Areas on the far side of the Moon were undergoing considerable changes. Complex magnetic effects had altered radioactive decay paths and preserved highly unstable disintegration products. Perhaps triggered by cosmic radiation, nuclear fission was initiated in the waste. Area One burnt itself out, but in the much larger Area Two a chain reaction was sustained. The extreme conditions, unusual nuclear reactions and magnetic effects created something like a giant synchrotron, propelling highly energetic particles into space like a rocket. The waste exploded violently for twenty minutes, accelerating the Moon at up to 12 G past parabolic velocity and releasing it from Earth orbit. The reactions died out over the next two days, accelerating the Moon at about 0.5 G past the escape velocity of the solar system. At these velocities the Wilding effect became significant.

Area B 7 was detonated in March 2005, altering the Moon's course to avoid a collision with the protoplanet Tora.

© Martin Willey