THE GIANT OKLAHOMA-based energy company's safety record became absorbed in national questions about nuclear energy after the mysterious death of laboratory analyst Karen Silkwood. However, the Cimarron River plutonium plant where Silkwood worked was not the only Kerr-McGee property where health and safety issues have been raised.

Although Kerr-McGee began as an oil drilling operation in the Oklahoma plains, its problems centered on Kerr-McGee Nuclear, a subsidiary corporation that processed uranium and plutonium for the federal government. Plutonium, like uranium, is used in nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants. Like all of the elements used for nuclear devices, plutonium emits alpha rays: radiation that, if absorbed in sufficient quantity, can cause cells in a seemingly healthy body to reproduce in a mutated form, ultimately resulting in ...

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