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Silkwood case laid to rest.

Silkwood case laid to rest

The Karen Silkwood radioactive-contamination case ended out of court last week with a settlement of $1.38 million awarded to Silkwood's heirs.

Silkwood died in a 1974 car crash on her way to a meeting with a New York Times reporter and a union representative, to whom she planned to give evidence of safety violations at the Kerr-McGee plutonium-processing plant where she worked. Silkwood's children and father sued the Oklahoma City-based corporation in 1976, charging that the owners of the Crescent, Okla., plant were responsible for exposing Silkwood to dangerous levels of radiation. Despite a 1979 appeal by Kerr-McGee, the Supreme Court in 1984 upheld the Silkwoods' right to use state law to seek $10 million in punitive damages from a federally regulated industry (SN:2/4/84, p.74), and sent the case back to the lower court for review.

Donald Winston of the Atomic Industrial Forum in Bethesda, Md., says that despite the Silkwood case, the states' role in regulating nuclear safety is "not really clear.' Sara Nelson of the Silkwoods' legal team, the Christic Institute of Washington, D.C., counters, "If people are injured by this industry's recklessness and maliciousness, and if they want to move against it through state law, they can do so.'
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Title Annotation:Karen Silkwood
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 30, 1986
Words:213
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