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George Galatis was a senior engineer at Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut, when he discovered something was dreadfully wrong. Spent fuel-rod pools at Unit 1 threatened to boil, potentially releasing radioactive steam throughout the plant. The pools were not designed to serve as nuclear dumps. During the refueling process, federal guidelines required antiquated plants like Millstone to move only one-third of the rods into the pools, but Galatis found all of the hot fuel had been dumped into them. On other occasions, alarms would sound as the fuel was unloaded just 65 hours after a shutdown, far sooner than the mandated cool-down period of 250 hours. Supervisors were winking at the routine violations in order to save two weeks of downtime, which would cost the company $500,000 per day in replacement power. Fearing the violations could lead to an accident threatening thousands of lives, Galatis told his colleague George Betancourt they should contact the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) immediately. Betancourt, who would join Galatis in attempts to make the plant safe, agreed but was concerned for his colleague's future. "You do that," he said, "and you're dog meat."The year was 1992. It now has been more than four years since Galatis made the March 4, 1996, cover of Time after crusading against unsafe practices at the nuclear power plant. Little noticed at the time were the biblical convictions that led him to stand up to his industry superiors.

"This isn't church"

When Galatis warned plant managers of the public-health risks and urged them to stop the hazardous practices, they refused. Since many of his supervisors were churchgoers, he was baffled. "This is business," he was told. "This isn't church." ...

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October 2, 2000

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