Radiation and Cancer

Read about Karen Silkwood and do a little research on some of the other issues related to worker safety.


The causal link between radiation and cancer has been known for over 100 years. Starting with the recruitment of young Navajo men in the 1940’s to mine uranium, to the exposure of over 220,000 U.S. soldiers to harmful levels of radiation for testing purposes, to the problems at Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Complex, the government and private industry together have a poor track record of protecting the innocent from the harm of radiation.

The Karen Silkwood story is but one of many that can be told about how safety issues are ignored at the expense of the worker. If a person walks into McDonalds and shoots five people we are outraged and demand the death penalty(OK…maybe not everybody in the class!!). However, an employer can ignore obvious severe safety issues, have twenty workers killed and comes out of the situation with barely a slap on the wrist from the justice system.

Answer the following questions in essay format. Your answers will be graded according to the grading rubric contained in the syllabus.

1. From the Silkwood incident identify as least three key ethical and moral issues faced by primary people in the situation. Name the person their role, and the issues they faced.

2. Should employers who ignore safety hazards that result in death be put on trial the same as other murderers? What might the employers be charged with (research some older cases for this)

3. Karen Silkwood died as a result of injuries sustained in a one car accident when she reportedly fell asleep at the wheel, ran off the road and hit a drainage bridge head-on. Looking at the picture of her car in the lecture section, and after reading at least two (2) other resources…(citing each appropriately) what is your opinion of this local law enforcement position?

4. Do you place any value on the position that Karen’s employer had her killed to cover up safety problems….explain?

5. Still yet another conspiracy story noted that her fellow workers killed Karen or had her killed so the plant wouldn’t risk being shut down completely with a couple hundred co-workers losing their jobs. Note your thoughts on this theory.

6.  Using all appropriate technology you are to research  and in 150 words or less identify another incident of corporate malfeasance that resulted in employee death or serious injury, or a significant negative impact on the general public. As part of this requirement you are include your resources and a picture associated with the incident.For more information on radiation and cancer check on this:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_therapy

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