Fast, Radioactive, and Out of Control

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KALPAKKAM, India — On October 8, 2014, Head Constable Vijay Singh awoke before dawn and scurried across the ochre gravel outside the constabulary barracks at the Madras Atomic Power Station “looking like the monsoon was about to break,” as a ground sweeper later recalled. Singh was one of 620 paramilitaries in the country’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) assigned to protect the facility’s nuclear-related buildings and materials, but he did not have his usual tasks in mind that morning.