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Hawk’s Nest Tragedy

Why is the Hawk’s Nest Tragedy considered the worst industrial disaster in US history?

Union Carbide is well known for its cases of ethical violation. The Bhopal gas tragedy and the Hawk’s Nest tragedy are two of the worst cases that brought to light the poor workers’ concerns. The Hawk’s Nest tunnel tragedy is considered to be the worst industrial disaster in the history of US. It was for the first time that a company in US had ignored workers’ safety so badly. The company was aware of the impending disaster and the kind of damage it was going to result in. However, it decided to pursue the project while ignoring all the associated risks.  The number of workers that died in the accident is assumed to be around 800. Many believe that this number could be bigger.

The incident is among the biggest industrial tragedies in US history.  The company knew that its workers were going to be exposed to silica inside the tunnel. However, it did not consider it essential to provide them with the protective gear that could protect them from the dangers of silica. The number of black immigrant workers working in the tunnel was the highest. Their number in the list of the dead people was also the largest. However, the truth related to the incident was kept hidden for years. The Hawk’s Nest Tunnel was 3.8 km in length. The company adopted the method of digging which was cheaper but produced more dust.  It used the dry drilling technique only to save costs.

 

However, the problem with this method was that it produced more dust and therefore became the cause of silicosis for a very large number of workers. What was even painful about this disaster was that it did not kill the workers at once but gave them a slow and painful death after prolonged suffering. It started happening just two months later than work was started in the tunnels. Workers started dying just two months after they had started working in the tunnels. Continued exposure to silica and its inhalation made their lungs grow stiff. Fibrous nodules grew on their lungs.

Soon they started dying of suffocation as they could not breathe. Several of them that did not die soon but started dying after they returned from the work site. The company’s response to the poor condition of the workers was even worse. The doctors available at the site gave the poor workers useless pills. They did not let them become aware of their condition and what was happening to their health. Due to the careless management of the company and its hunger for profits, several workers died an undeserved, painful and slow death. The Hawk’s Nets Disaster came out to be one of the worst industrial disasters in US history. The disaster highlighted the lack of ethics and how the finance hungry corporations like Union Carbide could keep their workers’ health and safety aside to earn profits.

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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