The Boston Molasses Flood: A Tragic Disaster Caused by Negligence

TLDR The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 was a devastating disaster caused by a poorly designed and tested storage tank for molasses. The burst tank resulted in the deaths of 21 people, extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, and a lengthy cleanup effort.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 A storage tank filled with over 2 million gallons of molasses burst in Boston, killing 21 people and injuring 150 more.
02:00 A poorly designed and tested storage tank for molasses in Boston was a principal source of sugar for the production of alcohol, which was in high demand in 1919 due to the end of World War I and the impending ban on alcohol sales.
03:27 The poorly designed and inadequately tested storage tank for molasses in Boston had steel that was only half as thick as it should have been, was brittle, and had improperly installed rivets, leading to immediate leaking and the company's solution of painting the tank brown to hide the leaks.
04:53 On the day of the tragedy, a ship arrived from Cuba and transferred over 600,000 gallons of heated molasses to the tank, almost completely filling it to the top.
06:19 The tank burst due to a combination of factors including thermal expansion, pressure from fermentation, and the viscosity of the molasses, resulting in a wave of molasses that traveled at high speeds and caused significant damage to buildings and infrastructure.
07:48 The molasses flood resulted in a death toll of 21 people, with bodies being found up to 4 months later in the Boston Harbor, and the cleanup effort was extensive and difficult, with molasses staining buildings and the harbor for years.
09:07 The company responsible for the molasses flood claimed it was an anarchist attack, but overwhelming evidence of negligence led to their guilt and a payment of $628,000 in damages; the flood remains the second worst disaster in Boston's history.
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