Environment: The Silkwood Mystery

At 7:30 in the evening of Nov. 13, a white Honda automobile swerved off Oklahoma state highway 74 and crashed into a concrete culvert wall, killing Karen G. Silkwood, 28, its sole occupant. Silkwood's death had a far greater impact than most highway fatalities. It brought to light a bizarre mystery that has touched off a series of investigations. It also resulted last week in a special Atomic Energy Commission report about Silkwood and her contamination by one of the most dangerous substances known to man—plutonium.

Karen Silkwood was a $4-an-hour technician at Kerr-McGee...

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