After the renowned microbiologist Dr. Ray Pendleton leads a demonstration to close down Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant, Ray is assaulted by two of Dirk Hendrickson's fellow Delta Valley militiamen. Ray survives the beating and is motivated to set up methane digesters as an alternative source of electrical power for Lodi dairies.
Dirk's continued attacks on the professor and his projects result in a life-threatening epidemic pointing to Ray's methane lagoons as the cause. The infected patients are admitted to UC Davis Medical Center. Linda McCord, a lab tech at the hospital and former student of Dr. Pendleton, works with Ray to hopefully prove that the methane power source is not the cause of this spreading disease. Both Ray and Linda develop a romantic relationship while working together. Linda is devastated when Ray develops a serious infection from the bacterium causing the epidemic.