Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Trapped under the sea

The city of Boston had been dumping sewage and waste into Boston Harbor for hundreds of years. It was toxic and needed to be cleaned up. But before that could happen Boston needed a way to deal with sewage. Most people don't think about what happens when you flush a toilet. That waste has to go somewhere. In many communities it goes to a sewer treatment plant where the waste is broken down and treated eventually being released back into the environment as clean water. The city of Boston created a master plan that was bold in its vision. The plan was to build a new treatment plan and a 10 mile tunnel under Boston Harbor. The goal was to release treated waste deep into the ocean far from Boston Harbor. Eventually, Boston Harbor would recover and be safe once again.

Such a thing had never been attempted. The initial tunneling went well. The unknown factor was the end of the job. Someone would have to pull the plugs in sequence. These plugs would be where the cleaned waste water is released. The plugs were deep at the end of the tunnel. Deep sea divers were needed to do the job. These men had experience in deep water dives and industrial construction. But even they had never done something like this. There were a lot of safety concerns for this job. Bids were put out for subcontractors. One was selected made up of a team of 5 deep sea divers. Their plan was untested. Their equipment was specially made and also untested. Safety concerns were raised and ignored. What followed was a tragedy.

The story is written in the style of a true-crime novel. There were sections where the story dragged as the author details the conditions in the tunnel and the equipment that was used. Those sections of the story were essential in explaining why the tragedy occurred. The reviews on Amazon are almost universally positive. The writing style did not appeal to me as it switched between characters and description. Still, the story is important because it explains the human toll of our modern infrastructure and lives.

Book Review: 3.5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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