Trapped Under the Sea
Crown, 2014 (2014)
Reviewed by Bob Walch
utting edge engineering marvels like buildings that defy gravity, tunnels that burrow through mountain ranges, and bridges that seem to stretch forever across bodies of water are commonplace today. Taking years to complete and creating awe inspiring accolades when completed, we often lose sight of the fact that far too many of these projects come with a toll in human lives.
n this book Neil Swidey tells the tale of five men who were sent into a dark, airless, miles long tunnel, hundreds of feet beneath the Atlantic to do a very dangerous job. When things began going wrong, they went terribly wrong and men died.
or decades Boston had one of the nastiest, filthiest harbors in the country. Finally a sophisticated water treatment plant was constructed to reverse the situation. As part of the multi-billion dollar project, a ten mile outfall tunnel was constructed out into the ocean. Dug into the bedrock underneath the ocean, hundreds of feet below the sea floor, the tunnel would carry treated waste water from Deer Island out ten miles and then release the water through a series of vertical pipes that extended up to the ocean floor.
he crew was being '
dispatched on a hazardous, high-stakes mission to fix a problem that had confounded some of the world's top engineering and construction companies
'. If the men were successful the treated waste water could begin flowing and if not the tunnel would be a '
$300 million white elephant
his book offers a detailed account of the problem and its
as well as the men who went into that tunnel on that fateful day. By the time you finish the book you will have met not only the crew members but also the engineers, politicians, lawyers and investigators who were also part of the story.
n the tradition of
The Perfect Storm
, this all encompassing narrative looks at what occurred on that day but also fills in the reader on the personal aspects of the key players. These are the stories behind the headlines and reports that were issued in the years following the accident.
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