Nuclear safety activist Silkwood killed, Nov. 13, 1974
On Nov. 13, 1974, 28-year-old lab technician Karen Silkwood died in a car accident near Crescent, Okla. A union leader assigned to review health and safety compliance at the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp. factory where she worked, Silkwood had testified about her findings before the Atomic Energy Commission the previous summer. At the time of her death, she was en route to a meeting with a New York Times reporter about alleged violations at the plant. The timing of the accident, coupled with her unexplained exposure to high levels of plutonium a week earlier, raised suspicions of foul play.
“The Atomic Energy Commission has revealed it would investigate allegations that an Oklahoma plutonium factory had been falsifying the inspection records of fuel rods...” reported The News of Port Arthur, Texas in a Nov. 20, 1974, article, which cited information from The New York Times News Service.
“In a related development, the Justice Dept. said it was considering a request that it start a separate investigation into the death of Karen Gay Silkwood of Edmond, Okla. – the woman who made the allegations about the Oklahoma factory of the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp.”
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Read more about the death of Karen Silkwood
An article in the Nov. 23, 1974, European Stars and Stripes of Darmstadt, Germany, detailed the Oklahoma medical examiner’s findings about the crash. Factory critic’s death ruled accidental
A Jan. 13, 1984, article in the Syracuse Herald-Journal of Syracuse, N.Y., discussed the multi-million dollar award to Silkwood’s estate for Kerr-McGee’s alleged negligence. Silkwood ruling hailed by family