Schwandorf County in the Upper Palatinate region; the 1980s. The Bavarian state government is covertly planning to build an atomic reprocessing plant. Hans Schuierer, head of the county authority, is attracted by the expected boost to the local economy. The only concerns about the planned nuclear facility are expressed by a handful of crackpots whom no one takes very seriously. Yet, when the Bavarian government disregards existing laws and uses brutal force to crush a harmless public protest by a newly founded action group, Hans has his first misgivings. The former bricklayer turned county executive becomes a fervent critic of the reprocessing plant. Fearlessly challenging the state government, he eventually voices open opposition. His new course, at odds with his own party, also means a bitter parting from a political comrade.