Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey

I don't usually read non-fiction but this story intrigued me.  I'm glad I read it because this is story that needs to be told.  Humans are not expendable.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  It has been published by Broadway Books, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

The tale begins with a history of the companies attempting to build this state of the art system for the wastewater treatment plant.  The goal was to move treated effluent from the plant out into the ocean to be mixed with sea water.  That meant a tunnel must be dug under the sea to transport the water out there.

There were lots of companies, many with different skills, that worked on various stages of the project.  They are way behind on the completion schedule and are trying to work faster all the time.  Part of the problem that is forming comes from discontinuity, rush work, and using brand new concepts.

The men who are working deep in the tunnel are hot shot divers with lots of experience.  They have no idea they are guinea pigs for a process that has never been used with humans before.  Nor did they know the gases they were breathing were not meant for human consumption.  They had some qualms about doing the job, but there was only a day or two left and the money was good.  When disaster strikes, not all of them get out alive.

Mr. Swidey reports on the findings, the potential court cases, and the outrage about how it turned out.  I personally found it hard to read about an engineer who cared so little about his men.  His attitude reeks of  "Yeah, they died.  So what?"  

It's a sad read that gives you an insight into how those who place themselves in danger all time are different than normal people.  They don't normally have the kind of marriage most men do.  They love what they do and do it well.  How the survivors in this story carry on afterwards and how few of the charges stick is a bit depressing.  It is what large corporations and governmental units do, though. 

I've worked in government and this still disgusts me.  If you're not familiar with it, this will be a real eye opener for you.  It should never happened.

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