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May 18, 1979 – CBS Radio – The World Tonight – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
May 18, 1979 – The Death of Karen Silkwood and the trial surrounding the Kerr-McGee nuclear corporation found Kerr-McGee guilty of negligence and was ordered to pay millions, including $10 million to the family of Karen Silkwood, the Union activist who was contaminated by Plutonium taken from Kerr-McGee in 1974. The trial, verdict and settlement set a precedent for safety at nuclear facilities around the country, with Kerr-McGee at the center of the controversy. Silkwood, an employee of Kerr-McGee had been actively trying to expose health and safety problems at the plant and had been poisoned by food contaminated with Plutonium obtained from the plant. Who was actually responsible for lacing her food with Plutonium remained a mystery, but at issue were the lax conditions at the plant to allow the material to be taken off-site. Silkwood was killed in an auto accident some nine days after being contaminated.
The settlement was a vindication for the Silkwood family and those who supported her efforts to bring health and safety issues to light. It also signaled a major impact on the nuclear industry, possibly making them responsible for all nuclear contamination incidents, regardless of where they occurred. It also may force the government to dramatically strengthen all health and safety regulations for nuclear facilities.
In other news – this May 18th was an Even Day if your car or truck had an even number at the end of your license plate. The gas shortage was rumbling on, with station closings and shortages at an alarming high, along with lines snaking around gas stations, hoping to fill up. On this day fingers were pointing in the direction of Washington, who was accused of taking gas from other states and redirecting it to California. The White House insisted gas allocation was being as evenly distributed as possible, even though California was beginning to doubt that, with predictions of a “very dry weekend” ahead for gas around the state. Even so, Governor Jerry Brown stressed that gas stations need to remain open, if the odd-even plan was going to work. Station owners shook their collective heads – open, but with no gas seemed crazy. It IS California, after all.
And Israeli commandos landed on the Lebanese coast earlier this day and struck at suspected Palestinian guerrilla positions. It was the first time they had used the sea approach in about a year. Israel claimed “very good results”, but the guerrillas said it wasn’t so. Israeli officials said over 20 guerrillas were killed, but the PLO said only three had been “slightly wounded” and denied there had been any damage to nearby villages. Further indication the Israeli-PLO war in Lebanon was far from over.
And that’s a little of what happened, this May 18th 1979 as reported by The World Tonight from CBS Radio.