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Karen Silkwood
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    (October 24, 1946-November 13, 1974)
    Raised in Nederland, Texas
    Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union member in charge of safety issues at the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Plant in Cimarron, Oklahoma
    Tested positive for plutonium contamination
    Killed at 28 in a single-car crash on her way to meet with a union representative and a New York Times reporter
    Story is the basis for the 1983 film 'Silkwood' starring Meryl Streep
    Her quote from her high school yearbook is, 'It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient thing too.'
    She was making $4 per hour at the time of her death.
    An Oklahoma State Trooper reported her death was a result of a 'classic, one-car sleeping-driver accident.'
    An autopsy revealed she had 0.35 milligrams of methaqualone (Quaalude) in her at the time of her death, almost twice the amount for inducing drowsiness.
    She was elected to the union’s 3-person bargaining committee, the first woman member in the plant's history.
    She raised health and safety concerns to upper management and was ignored.
    She had documentation of faulty fuel rods produced by the plant and altered product inspection records. She was aware of employee safety compromises.
    She was taking the evidence to her meeting when she was killed.
    No documents were found at the crash scene.
    Her story blew the lid off of the image of nuclear energy being clean and safe.
    The plant closed a year after her death.
    Her estate filed suit against her plutonium exposure and won a $10.5 million judgement (1979).
    A Federal Court of Appeals threw it out and awarded just $5,000.
    Her family hired famed lawyer Gerry Spence, who in 1986 got them a wrongful death settlement of $1.38 million (of course without admission of liability).
    She was named #40 in Life Magazine's '50 Most Influential Baby Boomers (1946-64).'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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