Court will review Silkwood case

The estate of Karen Silkwood won a Supreme Court hearing in an effort to reinstate a $10.5 million award against a company accused of contaminating her with radioactive plutonium.

The justices will hear an appeal next year by lawyers for the nuclear-industry analyst, who was killed on her way to meet a reporter about contamination problems at a Kerr-McGee Corporation plant in Oklahoma. It is the second time the legal controversy stemming from her death has come before the high court. In October 1981 the justices refused to hear the Silkwood estate's challenge to a ruling that blocked a suit charging Kerr-McGee with violating her civil rights.

The plant where Miss Silkwood worked produced fuel rods for an experimental breeder reactor using plutonium, which also is used in nuclear weapons.

At issue is state power to protect citizens against injury by the federally regulated nuclear industry.

In other actions Monday, the court:

* Refused to review government regulations setting aside no-smoking areas for airline passengers.

* Rejected challenges to a Homestead, Fla., ordinance completely banning the sale, possession, or advertising of devices used to cultivate or use illegal drugs.

* Agreed to review Maryland's limit on the amount charities may spend on fund-raising costs.

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