Priest Rapids Dam Explosion: Terrorist Attack Rumors Spread Quickly

A Priest Rapids Dam explosion had social media buzzing on Thursday. The Priest Rapids Dam explosion had a lot of terrorist attack rumors spreading very quickly, with little information released at first about what had taken place on the Columbia River. An updated report from the Seattle Times states that the explosion took place within the dam as a result of a transistor blowing.

The Priest Rapids Dam is located right on the Columbia River in central Washington state. It was opened in 1959 and was completed in 1961 midway between the Yakima Firing Range and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The dam gets its name from an area of the Columbia River (Priest Rapids) that ended up under water following construction of the reservoir.

Initial reports, like the one from King 5 News, states that six employees were injured during the explosion. Two were flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment, with the other four transported to local hospitals. An immediate response was given by Tom Stredwick which states that the hydroelectric plant is stable and functioning. It went on to state that there is no structural damage to the dam itself.

Aerial photo of Priest Rapids Dam. (Photo Courtesy Grant PUD)

The Priest Rapids Dam explosion has already garnered national attention due to the location and nature of the accident. It caused a lot of people to take to social media with theories about what might have happened. Some of those rumors have already gotten out of control, with people jumping to the conclusion that a terrorist attack must have taken place.

A delay in the information coming from the location and the Grant County Public Utility District contributed to creating a situation where many people jumped to conclusions. A this time, there has been no official statement linking anything that took place at the dam to an attack of any sort. The six employees that were injured were hurt by an electrical explosion on the site.

The ages and names of the six employees have not been revealed at the time, nor have the injuries that were suffered. More information about what took place will come out soon, with a full investigation already set to take place at the site. The malfunction that authorities on scene has not been completely addressed either, but it has been officially revealed that no damage to the structure of the dam has taken place.

The Priest Rapids Dam is about 21 miles upriver from the Hanford Site. Called "one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the US," an explosion in a dam just upriver from it is understandably going to be big news. At last report, about 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste still resides in tanks that are on site. Leaks have been reported quite frequently, leading to many steps to clean-up the site.

Radioactive Waste Cleanup Continues At Hanford Nuclear Reservation

While Hanford nuclear waste cleanup continues, it could take many more years before the problems at the site are brought under control. It has been the basis of many debates about the use of nuclear power and how the country deals with cleaning up sites similar to Hanford. That includes one judge vocally stating that deadlines on the cleanup endeavors are needed.

It is the danger that the Hanford site poses that has lead to many people questioning what has taken place on the Columbia River in central Washington state. An official statement about exactly what took place is expected soon, though the Grant County PUD hasn't given an exact arrival time for that. Until then, a lot of public information is lacking on the Priest Rapids Dam explosion other than a statement that people downriver don't need to worry about the dam failing.

[Image Source: Grant County PUD and Jeff T. Green / Getty Images]