On November 13, 1974, Karen Silkwood, an employee of a nuclear facility, left to meet with a reporter from the New York Times. She never got there.
The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant.
ActorsStarring: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher, Craig T. Nelson, Fred Ward, Diana Scarwid, Ron Silver, Charles Hallahan, Josef Sommer, Sudie Bond, Henderson Forsythe, E. Katherine Kerr, Bruce McGill, David Strathairn, J.C. Quinn, Kent Broadhurst, Richard Hamilton, Les Lannom, M. Emmet Walsh, Graham Jarvis, James Rebhorn, Ray Baker
Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep), a worker at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site (near Crescent, Oklahoma), shares a ramshackle house with two co-workers, her boyfriend Drew Stephens (Kurt Russell) and her lesbian friend Dolly Pelliker (Cher). She makes plutonium fuel rods for nuclear reactors, where she deals with the threat of exposure to radiation. She has become a union activist, concerned that corporate practices may adversely affect the health of workers. She is also engaged in a conflict with her former common-law husband in an effort to have more time with their three children.
Because the plant has fallen behind on a major contract—ostensibly to provide fuel rods for a breeder reactor at the Hanford Site—employees are required to work long hours of overtime. She believes that managers are falsifying safety reports and cutting corners wherever possible, risking the welfare of the personnel. Karen approaches the union with her concerns and becomes active in lobbying for safeguards. She travels to Washington, D.C. to testify before the Atomic Energy Commission. She interacts with union officials who appear to be more interested in the publicity she is generating than her welfare and that of her co-workers.
When Silkwood and other workers become contaminated by radiation, plant officials try to blame her for the incident. When she discovers that negatives of photographs of faulty fuel rods have been retouched and records of inadequate safety measures have been altered, she decides to conduct an investigation of her own. Complications arise in her personal life when Angela, a funeral parlor beautician, joins the household as Dolly’s lover. Unable to deal with Silkwood’s obsession with gathering evidence, Drew moves out…