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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 12. May 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. January 28, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/614.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(May 1979). Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 12. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/614

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, May 1979 - Page 12, May 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed January 28, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/630/show/614.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, May 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 12
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File Name femin_201109_550al.jpg
Transcript Meet local anti-nuclear leaders by Kathryn Stewart MacDonald Niami Hanson is a concerned member and motivating force behind Mockingbird Alliance, a local anti-nuclear group. Mockingbird is affiliated with The Lone Star, Alliance, a Texas umbrella organization for state-wide anti-nuclear activity groups. "For 30 years the public has been told nuclear power was clean, safe, and inexpensive. In reality, it is just the opposite. People became aware of the truth about nuclear energy after the Three-Mile Island accident," Hanson explained. "The strategy of Mockingbird is basi- NIAMI HANSON cally the same as other anti-nuclear groups. Teaching is the most important activity. Most people don't understand how we got nuclear energy, what the alternatives are, or the powers behind it," said Hanson. "The powers are corporate and military government." Hanson and a handful of other environmentally conscious citizens formed Mockingbird in June 1978. The consciousness-raising group has demonstrated their concern through a number of projects. Most recently, Mockingbird sponsored an anti-nuclear rally at Hermann Park on May 6 to coincide with the national march on Washington proclaiming "No More Harrisburgs." Mockingbird also initiated a demonstration at the Bay City power plant and plans a state-wide rally at the construction site on June 2. On August 6, 1978, the group commemorated the 30th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima, Japan."The devastatisng effects of the bomb still linger in Hiroshima," said Hanson. "Cancer caused by radiation exposure and birth defects are constant reminders of the holocaust." On October 29, 1978, a candlelight vigil was held in memory of Karen Silkwood. Hanson says the activities of Mockingbird are straight forward and to the point. The goals are to halt construction of all atomic power plants and facilities. Mockingbird demands the phasing out of all nuclear power plants currently operating. They also support the promotion of conservation of energy and the rapid implementation of solar and other renewable, decentralized energy sources. Although these are the goals of Mockingbird, Hanson has her own personal and moral beliefs concerning nuclear energy. "In my opinion, those people who participate in covering up nuclear acci dents and the nuclear industry's activities are personally and morally responsible. I feel they are criminals," Hanson stated. She referred to the Three-Mile-Is- land incident at Harrisburg and the government's total lack of response to recommendations that pregnant women be evacuated. MADELINE BASS-FRAMSON SILKWOOD ceding page continued from the pre- sitting day after day and listening to Bill Paul." Basically, Kerr-McGee's position over the years has been that Silkwood contaminated her apartment by herself and either fell asleep at the wheel, due to an overdose of sleeping pills or killed herself because she did not have the proper documents to present to the Times reporter. They appear to have made the trial a series of personal attacks against Silkwood, saying that she was not liked by the other workers, that they laughed at her, that she was promiscuous and smoked marijuana. Niami Hanson from Houston met a coworker of Silkwood's at a nuclear rally she attended recently and recalled her conversation with him. "At one time he said he was so proud to work for the nuclear industry but now he saw it was all just lies and terror. He said he had never met anyone like Karen. She begged him to stay on and fight Kerr-McGee, but he refused. He said he would never again go near or work for a nuclear plant." The Silkwood team is taking two basic positions and the results of these positions will, they believe, have far-reaching effects on the nuclear industry. According to Kohn, they are basing everything on a doctrine called strict liability. This means that if a company is dealing with ultra-hazardous material, they are responsible for all its effects. Spence has pointed out that if you have a lion in your backyard, you are responsible whether it gets out or not. Kerr-McGee's position is that it should not be held to that standard. They refuse to admit that the material they were handling was ultra-hazardous. Further, they say that the plant, which has been closed since 1975, was run safely. But, Dr. Karl Morgan, a health and physics expert, who testified in 1976 before a subcommittee of the House Small Business Committee said that he had "never known of an operation in this industry so poorly operated from the standpoint of radiation protection" than the Cimarron plant. Spence has been allowed to make a case on the dangers of plutonium. According to Kohn, Kerr-McGee says that the Silkwood team has to prove that they had something to do with the actual contamination. Under the law, the only way to avoid being strictly liable is if Karen contaminated herself, which is exactly what Kerr-McGee lawyers are trying to prove. Kerr-McGee would also like to say that the suit is more of a workman's compensation case. But, according to Kohn, the judge has indicated that he believes in the law of strict liability. The other important issue, Danny Sheehan says, is that Karen Silkwood died nine days after she was contaminated, so there was not enough time to determine if she had developed cancer. The critical question is, was she injured at the time of contamination or 20 years later when she would have developed cancer. Dr. John Gofman, scientist and director of the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, says that Silkwood was "married to lung cancer, it was an inevitable process." If the jury agrees, Silkwood would be the first recognized victim of radiation. Sheehan adds, "If the case reaches the Supreme Court, radiation could be officially classed as a 'public health hazard'." "This is a very important point," Diana Kohn says, "and has never been addressed before. It will clear up the whole issue of the Navajo uranium miners. Cancer has killed 18 out of 100 of the miners in Kerr- McGee's uranium mine near Shiprock, New Mexico and 21 others are feared dying. But, so far, Kerr-McGee officials have refused to accept responsibility." Several other facts have been revealed during the trial. One of them caused Spence to demand that the Silkwood claim be increased from $11.5 million to $70 million. This was due to testimony made by Al Valentine, the man in charge of the development of the plant's health manual. Valentine denied that he minimized cancer risks to nuclear plant workers when he wrote, "Radiation is safe." oi* page 1 of the manual. He also refused to accept that there is a direct link between plutonium and cancer. "It showed the worst corporate misrepresentation I've ever seen," said Spence. "It didn't anger me, it outraged me." In another dramatic moment, a former plant supervisor testified that 40 pounds of plutonium was missing from the plant during that period and Karen, he said, knew about it. Plutonium is the key ingredient in nuclear bombs and raises the specter of a black market in plutonium. Kerr-McGee officials say that a much smaller amount of plutonium disappeared. They also contend that it can be located as residue in the plant's pipes. To further add to Kerr-McGee's problems, Anthony Mazzochi, vice-president of the OCAW, testified that if there were faulty fuel rods produced, as Silkwood alleged, it could cause the reactor meltdown known as "The China Syndrome" and endanger millions of people. If both the smuggling charges and the defective fuel rods are proved true, the company could be charged with criminal as well as other civil penalties. In fact, according to Diana Kohn, the Fast Flux Nuclear Reactor in Hanford, Washington, which was supplied with the fuel rods, is scheduled to go on line in August. She says there is a big move in the state to prevent its opening, until the rods can be completely checked. Danny Sheehan says that the Silkwood case is important for a number of reasons. He says that if the Silkwood team can win on the strict liability point then all nuclear facilities can be held to much tougher standards. "The whole history of the nuclear movement shows that the government has coddled the industry. The government actually had to coax people to build the first nuclear power plant," Diana Kohn points out. If the Silkwood lawyers win on the strict liability point, it will allow contaminated residents near the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado and the Three-Mile Nuclear facility in Harrisburg to claim damages, Sheehan says. "So far, at the Three Mile Island facility," Sheehan points out, "the authorities Houston Breakthrough 12 May 1979