In the early hours of March 28, 1979, human errors and mechanical failures combined to cause a cooling system to stop working at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. One of the station’s two nuclear cores overheated, thrusting the plant into a crisis that would rivet public attention for five excruciating days.

Some 200 km away, at the headquarters of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in Washington, D.C., 36-year-old lawyer Peter Bradford suddenly found himself facing a critical double test.

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