In the not too distant future, political pressure forces Britain--and, simultaneously, the other major nations--to close their nuclear power plants and cope with the issue of nuclear wastes. Roger Lowman's father heads Patterick Fell, a nuclear facility where Britain's and a good deal of the Third World's waste material is stored. Straight-arrow Roger, who has enjoyed the local prestige and secretly plans to follow in his father's footsteps, is devastated when his schoolmates start protesting against Patterick Fell, and he is desolated when his father sends the family off to live anonymously but safely in a distant village. But Roger's younger sister Elspeth (13), who sees things in moral terms, hates Patterick Fell, joins the demonstrators, and loves her new bubble-gum life when they move. Nevertheless she is frightened into running away--back to Patterick Fell, it turns out when Roger and his mother go after her there and witness an explosion inside the facility, where Dr. Lowman has remained. Dad survives, though, and during a ""nuclear alert"" staged to get the rest of the world tucked away in shelters, the waste material is trucked out and shipped off. . . to a mid-Atlantic island where Lowman and others will dedicate their lives to guarding it and researching safer storage. The whole Lowman family chooses to go along to this outpost (A and O levels notwithstanding); and Elspeth, recognizing her father's role as a sort of priesthood, begins to see herself as a future minister to the community's ""non-scientific"" needs. You keep waiting for either a dramatic synthesis, a telling plot resolution, or at least some sort of light on the waste disposal issue, but Sampson seems content to simply write about it without going anywhere. Neither Elspeth's personality nor her ideas are developed enough to give the ending any ring, and stiff Roger and the other characters are too puppet-like to be of interest for their own sake.