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Karen Silkwood

Political Activist

Died when: 28 years 267 days (344 months)
Star Sign: Aquarius


Karen Silkwood

Karen Gay Silkwood (February 19, 1946 – November 13, 1974) was an American chemical technician and labor union activist known for raising concerns about corporate practices related to health and safety in a nuclear facility.

She worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site in Oklahoma, making plutonium pellets, and became the first woman on the union's negotiating team.

After testifying to the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns, she was found to have plutonium contamination on her person and in her home.

While driving to meet with a New York Times journalist and an official of her union's national office, she died in a car crash under unclear circumstances.

Her family sued Kerr-McGee for the plutonium contamination.The company settled out of court for US $1.38 million, while not admitting liability.

Her story was chronicled in Mike Nichols's 1983 Academy Award nominated film Silkwood in which she was portrayed by Meryl Streep.

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