Demolition crew rigs explosives on aging Washington dam

Oct 25, 2011

Update: Watch the explosion and dam breach.

WHITE SALMON, Wash. – Demolition experts are rigging 700 pounds of dynamite today at Condit Dam in southwest Washington. Crews are scheduled to breach the aging hydropower dam on the White Salmon River around noon Wednesday.

The plan is to use the explosives to open a drain tunnel through the base of 125-foot tall Condit Dam. The final blast will allow all the water in the reservoir behind the dam to gush out and flow down into the Columbia River. The flood should last about six hours.

PacifiCorp is taking down the dam because it's too expensive to modernize, including the addition of a fish ladder. Klickitat County Commissioner Rex Johnston says dam breaching evokes a range of emotions in the community... from gladness to – in his case – sadness.

"Most of us old timers here in White Salmon grew up fishing behind that dam with our fathers, or our grandfathers or our children. So it's going to be a sad time for us," Johnston said.

Police and property owners are joining forces to keep spectators far away from the big blast. PacifiCorp, the parent of Pacific Power, says the best way to view the dam breaching is to watch live streaming video on the utility's website.

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