Case Study : ' Silkwood ' Essay

951 Words Mar 21st, 2015 4 Pages
Patti Maisner
Kaplan University

Introduction Karen Silkwood, in her twenty’s, worked for Kerr-McGee Corporation in the state of Oklahoma in the field of metallurgy. She worked with plutonium (a radioactive metal) at her job and noticed after a time of employment, that things were not being correctly, in terms of protecting the workers. She tried to change and implement safety procedures to ensure worker protection, but instead was seen as a ‘whistle blower’. Because of her actions, although nothing has been distinctly proven, she was purposely contaminated and run off the road while she was driving. Not only did she witness blatant violations that would cause harm to the environment, she documented violations that were and could hurt workers, including herself (Nichols, "Silkwood (1983)"). Because of the actions of Karen Silkwood, Kerr-McGee closed down, and the same year (1974) a safety report update was added to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Safety Series No. 39, ‘Safe Handling of Plutonium’ ( IAEA, 1998). Plutonium is a man-made radioactive element that is made from uranium in nuclear reactors (Environmental Protection Agency, 2014). Much of the plutonium made was to be used for nuclear war. When plutonium decays it releases radiation. So do the other forms of isotopes. The half-live of these radioactive metals is anywhere from 87.7 to 6,560 years long (Environmental Protection Agency, 2014). One of the…

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