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Explosion, Injuries At Central Washington Dam

Grant County PUD
The Priest Rapids Dam is about 20 miles south of Interstate 90 on the Columbia River in Grant County, Washington.

An explosion at a central Washington dam Thursday afternoon injured six workers, two critically. Harborview Medical Center in Seattle was treating five workers who were airlifted to the hospital, including two who were in critical condition. Three other patients are in satisfactory condition and being treated for burns.

The blast happened at the Priest Rapids Dam at approximately 4:15 p.m. The dam is located about 20 miles south of Interstate 90 near the town of Mattawa on the Columbia River in Grant County.

“There was some kind of mechanical malfunction,” said Grant County sheriff’s spokesman Kyle Foreman. “The dam is intact.” Foreman said, adding there’s “nothing to indicate” the explosion was terrorism related.

Later, the hydro manager for the dam told reporters at the scene that the blast was an electrical explosion in one of the 10 generating stations at the dam. According to Kevin Marshall, the generator, called P-8, was recently under repair.

The 1959 dam is operated by the Grant County Public Utility District.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.
Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."