BROADCAST DATE : Dec 18, 1979

The Silkwood Syndrome

Report on the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Karen Silkwood, who was killed in a car accident while on her way to meet a New York Times reporter to whom she was to give evidence that Kerr-McGee, an Oklahoma uranium processor and the company she worked for, was violating nuclear safety standards. Silkwood, along with union reps began collecting evidence on the deplorable safety standards in the early 1970s. The company was so intertwined with government that when the case went to trial, they couldn't find an Oklahoma judge that was impartial. Karen Silkwood eventually learned that she had been contaminated with plutonium and she was barred from working in the area where she'd been collecting evidence. An investigation was launched into how she'd been contaminated: by herself accidentally, intentionally or if the company had done it to her. All that was concluded from the trial was that she had not contaminated herself intentionally. Regardless, it is still a mystery what caused Silkwood's car accident. There are two differing accounts of how she crashed - a car either pushed her from behind until cornered into a concrete wall, or she fell asleep at the wheel. Either way the folder with the evidence she was bringing to a reporter disappeared and has never been recovered.