We will write a custom Research Paper on The Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919 specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The Boston Molasses Disaster is one of the most famous cases of material failure. The incident, which happened on 15 January 1919, resulted in the death of 21 people and injured 150 (Trex).
The accident occurred when a metal tank filled with molasses burst, letting out over 2.3 million gallons of liquid. The tank was 50 feet tall and 90 feet long, with a total capacity of 2.5 million gallons (Trex). The tank had been in operation for several years already and was filled almost to its full capacity on the day before the disaster. According to the witnesses, the tank’s rivets popped, and the sides of the tank ripped open, sending a wave of molasses into the street (Trex). The tank was made out of thin steel panels, fixed together with rivets, and thus the material that failed was metal.
The intended use of the material was to hold the liquid inside without allowing it to leak. Steel is still commonly used to build storage containers due to its strength. The structure was expected to be strong enough to hold a large volume of liquid, but errors during construction and the thinness of the material increased the pressure on the walls and caused the accident. According to the investigation, the corners of the tank were not cut and thus could not be secured with regular rivets (Trex). Moreover, the steel used to build the walls of the tank was too thin and brittle to hold the required weight.
The company also failed to conduct inspections and safety tests since it was in a rush to build the tank. Therefore, the primary cause of the failure was a mistake on the engineer’s part and the company’s negligence of safety requirements.
Trex, Ethan. “100 Years Later: Remembering Boston’s Great Molasses Flood of 1919.” Mental Floss. 2018. Web.