Igor Suskov is a cytogeneticist who wants to learn a new technique to analyze the extent of mutation in human cells resulting from radiation. But the Soviet scientist may never get the chance, because the people who have developed the assay are at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the site of classified research on U.S. nuclear weapons.

Suskov's request is caught in the political and scientific fallout that continues one year after the accident inside reactor unit #4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. Doubts about the quality of the available data, combined with the traditional reluctance of the Soviet Union to share information and the red tape involved in any collaboration between the Soviets and Western nations, have dampened hopes that a better understanding of the effects of radiation on humans and the environment would be the silver lining in the worst civilian nuclear reactor disaster on...

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