Occasinoally, looking back on how things have gone wrong in building history can help remind us why we do things the way we do. On this day in 1919, the Purity Distilling Company of Boston fell foul of poor project management and quality assurance in an unimaginably awful way. Their 2.3 million gallon molasses tank burst, creating a tidal wave of some 11,818 tonnes of molasses, which engulfed the local area with loss of life and untold damage to property and to business.
It seems that despite spending $30,000 on its contstruction, Purity's parent company insisted on a short cut. The accepted practice after building such a tank was to fill it with water and test its integrity. However, with a shipment of molasses due to arrive just days after the completion of the tank, the decision was handed down to commission the tank without testing. The consequences are a matter of history.