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Posted on Oct 14, 2015

4 remain hospitalized after explosion at dam

SEATTLE — Four of the six Grant County PUD workers injured in an explosion last week at Priest Rapids Dam continue to be treated at Harborview Medical Center for burn injuries.
While three workers were being treated over the weekend at the hospital, a fourth worker was admitted on Tuesday, Grant PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said.
One of the four hospitalized men remains in critical condition. Another was in serious condition and two workers were in satisfactory condition on Wednesdsay morning. A hospital spokeswoman has said all the patients are men and all are being treated for burns.
The explosion was reported around 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 8. It happened inside the powerhouse when a circuit breaker, which acts as the “on-off” switch for one of the dam’s 10 turbine/generating units, malfunctioned, PUD spokesmen have said.
Initially, five workers were taken to Harborview Medical Center and a sixth was treated and released from a regional hospital. So all six workers have now been or are being treated at Harborview, Allen said.
Since last week, two workers were released from the Seattle hospital. The injured workers are power plant electricians or operators. The PUD has not released the names of the victims.
Both the PUD and the state Department of Labor and Industries are investigating the incident. The investigation is expected to take weeks. Results will be reported to PUD commissioners. The affected unit will not operate again until the investigation is finished.
The dam is stable and continues to generate electricity. The explosion resulted in no public safety or downstream flooding threats, the utility reported.
To help support the families affected by the explosion, Grant PUD opened the “Priest Rapids Family Fund” at Granco Credit Union in Ephrata.
Contributions to the fund may be made by mail, P.O. Box 127, Ephrata, 98823, or in person at 217 Alder St. All donations should be earmarked “Priest Rapids Family Fund.”


— By Jill FitzSimmons,