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Films >> Silkwood (1983) >>

0:04:28 Like a Sunburn
Trainee: What about the radiation effects from all this material?
Tour Guide: Well, we've all seen the poor guy suffering the effects of sunburn. Well, radiation is like that. It's the kind of thing can't hurt you unless you're careless with it.
0:09:00 We Can't Do the Drill
A siren blares.
Jimmy: What the hell's that?
Wesley: It's a test.
Jimmy: How d'you know?
Voice on PA: This is a test. This is only a test.
Wesley: Oh, you always say that. We know some poor son-of-a-bitch just got his ass fried.
Gilda: What I don't get is how we have all these tests, we never go through the drill. If this was a real airborne contamination, we're supposed to get out of here.
Morgan: We can't do the drill. Might stop production for ten minutes.
Karen: If it had been the real thing, they'd have shut down the plant, and I coulda had the whole weekend off.
0:10:47 Not Too Curious Yet
Karen: What are they doin' to that truck?
Plant Employee: Move on out, okay?
Karen: 'Kay.
0:19:21 A Word on the Kids
Karen: I had ‘em in the car. Coulda just headed straight for Oklahoma.
Drew: What would you have done with them?
Karen: I don't know.
0:22:22 Accused
Gilda: Ah Karen, they shut down.
Karen: Say what?
Gilda: There was a contamination in our section.
Karen: When?
Gilda: Right after you left.…Karen, I'm not sayin' this to upset you, but I think you ought to know that they're saying that you did it.
Karen: I did it?
Gilda: Well, they knew you wanted the weekend off.
Karen: Gilda, that is so dumb.
0:24:50 Union Leader's Two Cents
Quincy: Karen, the company's gotta blame somebody. Otherwise, it's their fault.
Karen: What are you lookin' at, Zachary, get lost, okay -- [Flashes her breast]
Quincy: Hey Karen, you ever thought of goin' into politics?
0:29:30 Cancer
Karen: Thelma says she's gonna get cancer.
Dolly: If anybody's gonna get cancer around here, it's gonna be me, Dolly Trashbags.
Karen: Everything isn't about you, you know.
Drew: If anybody around here's gonna get cancer, we're all gonna get cancer.
0:31:08 Not Puffed Wheat
Drew: You just wakin' up to this? What do you think we're working with over there, puffed wheat?
Karen: I'm just askin' a question.
Drew: If you're really worried about it, stop smoking.
0:33:48 Karen Getting "Interested"
Karen: Yeah, you know, it's terrible what they do when they scrub a person.
Carl: I been through it. It ain't s'bad.
Gilda: Did she have just external or was it internal?
Karen: Just external, they said.
Gilda: Well, did they give her a nasal smear? That's how they tell about the internal.
Karen: No, I don't think so. Shoot, I knew that! Why didn't I think of that? They should've given her a nasal smear.
Gilda: Well, you can't think of everything.
Karen: Boy, they didn't even give her a nasal smear.
Carl: Why are you so interested?
Karen: Huh?
Carl: Tell me that. Why are you so interested all of a sudden?
0:45:23 Reading Up on Plutonium
Karen: This says -- this says all that stuff about acceptable levels an all . . . it's alllbullshit.
Dolly: What is?
Karen: It says here plutonium gives you cancer. Says it flat out.
Dolly: Where'd you get that?
Karen: It, uh, came in all that union stuff from Washington. You got one, everybody got one.
Dolly: Well, Hurley works there.You think he'd work there if he was gonna get cancer?
Karen: Oh, listen to this. Genetic damage.
Dolly: Meanin' what?
Karen: Meanin' it goes on down into your kids.…It says here, gross physical and mental defects.
Dolly: I already got them.
0:48:58 Beauty Marks
Karen: What are you doing?
Winston: I'm looking at you.
Karen: Yeah, no, what are you doin' to the negative?
Winston: Well, sometimes when you take a picture, you get these white spots in there, so I'm making them go away.
Karen: Doesn't somebody have to look at ‘em to make sure they're okay?
Winston: Me.
Karen: Yeah, but I mean—
Winston: Mean what?
Karen: How do you—how do—how do you know they're just spots? They could be a defect in the weld, or—
Winston: Oh no, no. Already checked the weld. Now I'm just puttin' beauty marks on them.
0:52:04 Drew's Doubts
Drew: You?
Karen: Yeah.
Drew: On the union negotiating committee?
Karen: Yeah.
Drew: Karen, let me give you a hint. Don't flash ‘em.
Karen: Turns you on.
Drew: Well yeah, but I'm not management.
Karen: I'm as smart as Hurley is.
Drew: Just as tactful.
Karen: Boy, you sound like my mother.
Drew: Well, you don't just stand toe-to-toe with someone, call them a mother fucker, and get anywhere.
Karen: I'll keep it in mind.
0:57:23 Kerr and McGee
Angela: Karen, you ever been downtown? There're two big streets. One's called Kerr, and one's called McGee. And that's how I see it. They own the state, they own everybody in the state, and they own practically everybody I work on.
0:58:57 Karen More Interested
Angela: You know Drew, I can always tell when a dead person I beautify worked for Kerr-McGee, because they all look like they died before they died.
Dolly: Why don't you just lay off her?
Karen: You know, I bet there's something to that.
Drew: To what?
Karen: About people lookin' like they died before they died. You know, plutonium and all.
Drew's response: dumps beer over his head, tosses empty can on floor, belches on way outside.
1:01:40 What the Company Knows
Quincy: Is the company gonna find out about this?
Paul: Ah, it's highly unlikely.
Quincy: Yeah well whenever the AEC inspector comes to the plant, anybody says anything to him, company finds out about it.
Paul: Yeah, right, right. Maybe you could bring that up.
1:04:51 Defective Fuel Rods
Karen: I work in metalography, you know, in x-rays, and uh, sometimes we, well, quite frankly, we have negatives altered. The negatives of the welds of the fuel rods. Uh, they take a—a weld and they cross-section it, and they photograph it, and there's a defect, and they just, um, touch it up.
Max Richtern: Touch it up.
Karen: Uh-huh. With Pentel pen. I seen ‘em do it, right on the negatives. They just fill in the white spots.
Max Richtern: You're talking about x-rays of fuel rods.
Karen: Uh-huh, the fuel rods they're sending up to that—we're sending up to that breeder reactor they're testing in Hanford.
Max Richtern: Do you know what that means?
Karen: Ah, well, I know they shouldn't do it.
Max Richtern: An ordinary nuclear plant, you have a meltdown, poisonous gas, and dead people. That's nothing compared to what can go wrong with a breeder. You put defective fuel rods in a breeder reactor, for all we know, the whole state could be wiped out. Can you get documentation of that?
Karen: Um, I guess so.
Max Richtern: I mean, if you could get documentation, that'd be very important. ‘Cause we could set you up with a reporter from The New York Times, get the company up against the wall on contract negotiations. But you'd have to have documentation.
Karen: Mm-hmm. I don't know about puttin' names in the newspaper.
Max Richtern: Names aren't the point. The point is that if you're right, they could kill off two million people. There's a moral imperative involved here. Think about it. Talk to Paul. You look like a stand-up girl.
1:09:05 Doubts Give Way to Anger
Drew: How many people know about your goin' to Washington?
Karen: Only the people in that room.
Drew: Quincy and Morgan know about your spyin'?
Karen: No?
Drew: People are gonna lose jobs, Karen.
Karen: Well, some of ‘em ought to. There's a moral imperative here.
Drew: You're gonna put some big story in the papers?
Karen: Yeah, in The New York Times.
Drew: In The New York Times.. Guess that about ties the package up with a bow, doesn't it?
1:11:22 Difference of Opinion
Drew: I was just thinking if you'd ever quit and come away with me.
Karen: Well, I can't quit now.
Drew: Yeah, I know. That's what I was thinkin'.
Drew: I quit.
[ . . .]
Karen: Why'd you quit?
Drew: I just don't give a shit.
Karen: You don't give a shit if everybody in the plant is being poisoned?
Drew: (After Karen leaves) Don't give me a problem I can't solve.
1:18:55 Canaries
First doctor at Union meeting: In the coal mines years ago, they used to put canaries in the tunnels, and if the canaries dropped dead, they knew there was a gas leak. Well, it's a brand new industry, so you're the canaries. Trouble is, you're not going to drop dead right away—might take ten years, might take twenty, we don't know. Here's what we know—plutonium causes cancer. Anybody who tells you we don't know how much plutonium causes cancer, they're lying. What we don't know is how little plutonium causes cancer. The government says that the maximum permissible body burden for your lifetime is 40 nanocuries. Well, let me tell you how much that is. It's the size of a tiny dot on a piece of paper. We say that that's too much. We say that it takes less than that to kill you. We don't say it's twice too much, three times too much, we think that that is one hundred and fifteen thousand times too much. A pollen-sized grain of plutonium injected in mice causes cancer. When you inhale it, and it lodges in your lungs, you're married to cancer.
Second doctor at Union meeting: Now, we've been through all the training literature Kerr-McGee hands out to new employees, and there's nothing about cancer. Did management give you any literature about cancer?
First doctor at Union meeting: Then you get contaminated, and they tell you you've had an acceptable level of contamination. I say there's no such thing.
1:34:00 None of Our Business
Karen: They say they were missing more than a kilo?
Gilda: Why are you writin' it down?
Karen: The union is supposed to keep track of these things. Am I right? Okay, so…
Gilda: You won your election.
Karen: We are still negotiating a contract here.
Gilda: Well, why don't you just concentrate on uppin' our wages and skip over what is none of our business?
Karen: This is our business.
Gilda: Karen, I like my job.
1:35:11 Pressure from Paul
Paul: Are you getting the stuff together?
Karen: …see, cause the maintenance people are exposed to more hot stuff than anybody.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, Karen. I-I-It's the x-rays that are really important. Now we're going into the contract negotiations and we wanna get the guy from the Times down there mid-November. That's three weeks.
Karen: I know, I know. I'm getting the stuff, it's just not that easy.
1:36:43 Morgan's Advice
Karen: Oh, Morgan, you scared me.
Morgan: Meant to.
Karen: I'm doin' something good.
Morgan: I know what you're doing, and you're the wrong person to be doing it. It's dangerous. That's all I'm sayin'.
1:47:06 Cooked House
Karen: Mr. Hurley, they're takin' everything.
Hurley: Listen, listen to me. We're getting readings from the sink, from the toilet seat, from the makeup you touched, from the bologna and cheese in the refrigerator, from your samples. And we're getting next to nothing on our readings of Drew and Dolly and your car is absolutely clean. Now, how do you explain that?
Karen: I don't know.
Hurley: Think about it, Karen.
Dolly: I have to go.
Karen: Where you goin'?
Dolly: I have to go with them.I'm sor—I'll be okay, I have it under control.
Karen: No, no, don't go anywhere with them.
Dolly: I'm comin'—you wanna keep your goddamn hands off me? It's alright.
Karen: Oh, boy.
Hurley: C'mon Karen, concentrate.
Karen: How'd that plutonium get in my house?
Hurley: Did you put it there?
Karen: What are you crazy? – (laughs) -- You think I'd contaminate myself?
Hurley: I think you'd do just about anything to hurt this company.
Karen: And then I spilled it—I spilled my urine sample container—somebody musta put plutonium in my urine sample container, and then I spilled it, see, I spilled it on my bathroom floor and I cleaned it all up and my, my, my hands musta got hot. And then I—what'd I touch? Okay, I touched-I touched my sink, I touched my uh, uh, uh, my makeup and uh, and I forget what—stuff in the ‘frigerator. That's it. See, somebody spiked my urine sample container. Boy.
Hurley: Who?
Karen: Well, how'd I know who? Anybody coulda done it, you leave it sitting there on that shelf by the punch in at the plant, anybody coulda come by and dropped a little plutonium in there. Oh, boy. You know, there's a lot of people at the plant hate me.
Hurley: The whole house is hot—how'd it get hot?
Karen: I spilled it, I told you, man.
Earl: That doesn't explain the readings we're getting on your nasal smear—45,000 dpm.
Karen: What?
Earl: 45,000 dpm.
Karen: Oh, my Jesus, Jesus. I'm internally contaminated then, that's what you mean, in't it?
Earl: We don't know yet what it means.
Karen: Oh boy, that's what you mean.
Hurley: Karen, calm down, calm down. Karen, listen. Listen.
Karen: Get out of my way. Oh, Jesus where am I gonna go now? I don't have any place to go now.
Hurley: We're getting a room for Dolly. We can help you. We want to help you. We can help you with a place to stay. We can help you with money.
Karen: But first I have to sign something right?—In't that right?—You want me to sign a statement sayin' I did all this.
Hurley: Just in your own words what happened.
Karen: Okay, okay. In my own words, I'm contaminated. I'm dyin'.
1:56:28 What Did Dolly Tell?
Karen: Hey Dolly, did you uh, did you tell the company about The New York Times?
Dolly: No, I don't think I remembered about that part.
Karen: Did you tell them about the x-rays? Dolly?
Dolly: No.
Karen: Are you sure?
Dolly: Karen, they know everything about us.
Karen: They don't know about the x-rays, do they?
(Dolly shakes head no.)
2:00:01 I'm Ready
Karen: I think you should come on down uh, to Oklahoma City and bring that reporter from The New York Times.
Paul: Are you ready to see him?
Karen: I'm ready.
Paul: You got the documents?
Karen: Come on down.
2:03:22 Let's Not Fight
Drew: Sweetheart, don't go tryin' to get anything out of the plant.
Karen: Hey, if I get hung up at the union meeting, will you pick up Paul Stone and that guy from the NewYork Times at the airport?
Drew: Fuck no.
Karen: C'mon darlin', I don't know how late this meeting's gonna go tonight.
Drew: I don't want you doin' that.
Karen: Well, I'm doin' it.
Drew: You don't owe the union anything.
Karen: Let's not fight.
Drew: You don't owe the New York Times anything.
Karen: Let's not have a fight now, okay?
Drew: Okay.We can always have a fight later.
Karen: Hey, Drew. (second flash)
2:03:22 Let's Not Fight
Drew: Sweetheart, don't go tryin' to get anything out of the plant.
Karen: Hey, if I get hung up at the union meeting, will you pick up Paul Stone and that guy from the New York Times at the airport?
Drew: Fuck no.
Karen: C'mon darlin', I don't know how late this meeting's gonna go tonight.
Drew: I don't want you doin' that.
Karen: Well, I'm doin' it.
Drew: You don't owe the union anything.
Karen: Let's not fight.
Drew: You don't owe the New York Times anything.
Karen: Let's not have a fight now, okay?
Drew: Okay.We can always have a fight later.
Karen: Hey, Drew. (second flash)
2:08:08 End Text: Aftermath
The precise circumstances of Karen's death are unknown. It is also not known whether she had any documents with her. None were found.

An autopsy revealed a high level of the tranquilizer Methaqualone and some alcohol in her bloodstream. Oklahoma police ruled her death a single car accident.

A year later the plant shut down.