‘Nuclear Beach’ by Harriet Pike

Nothing is as blissful as it looks in the Big Island resort community. Cass Golden, editor of the local newspaper, and Jacqui, a 20ish eccentric young reporter, doubt the safety of its newly-opened nuclear plant.

Out for an early morning jog on the beach, Jacqui discovers thousands of dead fish. She and Cass trace the fish kill to a radiation leak in the plant’s ocean outfall pipe. When Cass confronts the utility’s president, he admits nothing, but tries to bribe her with a job on his public relations staff. After the nuclear plant’s machinery starts to vibrate abnormally, a special manned watch is set up.

Publicly denying any danger, BILCO privately is worried and calls in a team of experts to pinpoint the problem without having to shut down the plant at a loss of $l million a week. Changing water temperatures cause the plant’s ocean pipe to crack and break, precipitating a “blowout”. The core “lava” breaks through the earth’s crust in several spots causing a scalding death of those unfortunate enough to be in its path. As the radiated air floats toward Shore City where 500,000 people live, the wind catches an old newspaper with an ad headline still legible: “BILCO, a Better Way of Living.”

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