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Winds Hamper Exploratory Drilling On Wanapum Dam’s Giant Crack

040114AK_Wanapum_drillteam.jpeg
Photo courtesy of Grant County PUD.

High winds on the Columbia River are hampering forensic work on the damaged Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington. Workers first noticed a giant crack in the structure over a month ago. Investigators are trying to figure out just how bad it is and how to fix it.

It’s a bit like a person with a cracked molar. In this case, concrete doctors are trying to figure out why the crack happened so they can prescribe a treatment plan.

But getting to the root cause is not easy. Crews have to construct a platform on the dam. This is so workers and their equipment can access the damaged part.

The goal is to drill holes in the structure to determine the geometry of the crack, but it’s been slow going. Anytime wind gusts reach over 35 miles an hour, cranes and boats have to pull back.

Grant County officials hope to complete this investigative work in the next month. Then they can come up with a plan on how to fix it.

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.
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