Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blowing the Whistle

Karen Silkwood

In 1965, she married William Meadows, with whom she had three children, but in 1972, she left her husband and went to Oklahoma City, where she was employed briefly as a clerk in a hospital. Shortly afterwards, she was hired as a metallographic lab technician at the Cimarron River Plutonium Plant, operated by Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corporation, in Crescent, Oklahoma. On her first assignment to study plant health and safety issues, she discovered leaks, spills and potentially missing plutonium. In those days of the early-to-mid 1970s, Environmental concerns were making the headlines, and Silkwood felt that the plant management was not sufficiently concerned with worker safety. She testified before the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) that she had suffered radiation contamination, and she participated in a union strike against the company. According to the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, Kerr-McGee had manufactured faulty fuel rods, falsified inspection reports, and risked employee safety.
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