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Washington State hydro plant explosion injures six

09 October 2015

Six employees were injured, two of them critically, in an explosion at Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River in central Washington state, local authorities said on October 8. A Seattle hospital took in five of the casualties, who are being treated for burn injuries. The explosion was attributed to electric equipment, the sheriff's office said. 

Dam generator gallery
Dam generator gallery

The explosion did not affect the stability of the dam and officials said there was no danger to the public.

The Priest Rapids Dam was built in the 1950s. It has 10 turbines and 10 generators to produce electricity.

Update: The explosion that injured six workers at Priest Rapids Dam was the result of an arc flash, Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) officials confirmed on October 25.

All the injured received serious burns. Two of the six workers remain at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. One remains in serious condition in intensive care but is awake and alert, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. The condition of the other has improved from critical to serious, she said.

The employees were in the vicinity of the dam’s P8 generating unit when the main breaker that turns the unit on or off failed, causing an arc flash explosion, PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said.

The PUD and the state Department of Labor and Industries are investigating the incident. 

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