FSpaceRPG article

Status: Official

On Earth, Terrans built up a considerable level of radioactive waste, either from use in reactors, weapons, industrial or medical activities. Over the years the waste has been stockpiled in underground vaults, dumped in deep ocean trenches or in low quantities put into landfills.

Radioactive waste has proven to be useful if reprocessed into forms still useful for industrial purposes, and as such some has been repurposed over time.

During the 22nd century with the construction of the orbital tether towers, and low cost access to space, stockpiles of waste have been shipped from Earth into orbit and off to an L5 based reprocessing plant, where solar furnaces and other processes are applied to turn the waste into usable products, such as low grade enhanced nuclear propellant or low grade active fuel sources for small unmanned satellites and probes.

Over the course of a decade almost all underground stockpiles have been removed off Earth.

Seabed/ocean trench dumping has been more difficult to clean up. In the 2160s, work began on retrieving dumped waste via the means of seabed rovers on abyssal plains, or special submersibles for trench activities. Where containers can be retrieved and sealed for transport off Earth, they will be destined for shipment off planet. For those that can’t be safety contained for such transport, the waste and contaminated surrounding sediment is harvested and transported to special undersea burial zones located in fast moving tectonic plate subduction zones. These burial sites are effectively drilled mines deep into the subducting plate, designed to be sealed off in a few decades time, and allow the natural processes of the Earth to recycle the radioactive waste into the upper mantle and become part of the natural cycle that natural radioactive materials in the crust would normally have been part of if not extracted, processed and used by human activity.

Terran still use nuclear fission reactors for some purposes, and waste from those still in operation are shipped directly to Earth based or orbital reprocessing facilities. The same is true for industrial and medical uses.

Other alien races have faced similar issues with radioactive waste, but not all have managed to actively cleanup as well as Terrans are doing. The Stotatl did go through a nuclear fission phase just over 2000 years ago and have since phased out and cleaned up all such activity, bar continued use for industrial and medical purposes. The Aronhi are still active users to a high degree of nuclear fission energy, whether for reactors, weapons or other purposes. Several areas on their homeworld are hazardous dueto wate leakage, reactor incidents, or outright nuclear war. Unfortunately some of the dirty practices associated with nuclear energy have continued offworld as they have expanded to the stars. Moves towards fusion and solar energy are slowly changing this however.

Categories: 22nd Century Earth

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