Americans waking up to 'dangers' of nuclear power, activist says

May 23, 1984
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MEDFORD, Ore. -- A major figure in a lawsuit won through information supplied by nuclear power whistle-blower Karen Silkwood says the suit and the movie 'Silkwood' have made people aware of the danger of nuclear energy.

'The movie pointed out to a lot of people the attitude of the nuclear industry which puts fast profits ahead of worker safety and the environment,' said Ada Sanchez, a former national director of Supporters of Silkwood.

Release of the movie 'Silkwood' last winter roughly coincided with a January decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding $10 million in punitive damages against the Kerr-McGee Corp., based in Oklahoma City, Okla., for negligence in operating a power plant.

Ms. Silkwood, a worker at Kerr-McGee's plant in Cimarron, Okla., died Nov. 13, 1974, in a one-car crash while on her way to meet a New York Times reporter to discuss conditions at the plant.

Ms. Sanchez, in Oregon for a series of speaking engagements, said Tuesday Ms. Silkwood's investigation of Kerr-McGee made her a 'symbol' for other people concerned about possible hazards of nuclear power.

'She became a symbol to a lot of people who realized that if something dangerous and harmful is going on, you can act on very moral grounds and take risks that may result in important things you may not even expect,' she said.

Ms. Sanchez said she forsees future civil lawsuits against the nuclear power industry in light of the Supreme Court decision and because there are hundreds of anti-nuclear 'education' groups across the nation.

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