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We found no news reports of massive explosions in the U.S. causing extensive damage in the 24 hours before a video claiming such destruction occurred was shared on Facebook or in the 24 hours before it was released on YouTube.
On July 24, first responders in Pennsylvania extinguished an explosive fire after a specialized transformer failed, according to news reports. Officials suspect a Virginia gas line might have exploded July 25 because of environmental cracking.
We found no evidence that these explosions caused widespread power outages or gas shortages.
A video shared on social media claims that there were two massive explosions "in the past 24 hours" — the result of attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure — causing power outages and potential gas shortages.
In the video, an unidentified man said the federal government warned that "something big is happening" and that critical infrastructure was at risk.
"We’re seeing two massive explosions on U.S. critical infrastructure in the past 24 hours that have caused power outages," he claimed. "Already, we’ve seen a power plant explosion. And now we’re also seeing an explosion that could cause massive gas shortages on the east coast."
The 22-minute video was shared Aug. 3 with the caption: "WARNING EAST COAST Gas Supply HAS STOPPED - FEDS issue EMERGENCY ALERT."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screenshot from Facebook.)
The Facebook post shared a video that was originally posted July 26 by a YouTuber who goes by Patrick Humphrey. Humphrey has nearly 89,000 subscribers on YouTube, where the video has more than 39,000 views as of Aug. 7. It’s an example of a larger theme on Humphrey’s channel: He regularly posts videos about alleged emergencies and warnings from federal officials. We have debunked claims from his past videos.
We found no news reports of massive explosions in the U.S. causing extensive damage in the 24 hours before the video was shared on Facebook — or in the 24 hours before the video was released on YouTube. Although Humphrey claims the federal government warned people, we found no evidence or statements from federal authorities to corroborate his claims.
More than eight minutes into the video — after he repeatedly mentions explosions, people being without power and the threat of gas shortages — Humphrey cites a gas pipeline explosion in Virginia.
The report said that a Columbia Gas Transmission natural gas line in rural western Virginia exploded July 25, causing the brief closure of a nearby highway. The fire was extinguished, no injuries were reported and a section of the pipeline near the explosion was shut down, the AP reported. TC Energy, Columbia Gas Transmission’s parent company, said that it was working with local responders and agencies to investigate the explosion’s cause.
The explosion’s cause is so far unknown. But a July 28 corrective action order the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration sent to TC Energy concluded, "based on initial observations of the failed pipe, environmental cracking is the suspected cause of the Incident."
We found no reports or evidence that the explosion caused a natural gas shortage in Virginia or along the East Coast.
The second explosion was in Pennsylvania, Humphrey said. He cited a CBS News Pittsburgh headline that read, "Crews extinguish large fire on Brunot Island after reactor ‘catastrophically failed.’"
The report said firefighters extinguished a blaze overnight at a Duquesne Light Co. facility on Brunot Island after a specialized transformer failed and caught fire July 24.
"We arrived with our crews and had a large fire and some small detonations happening on the island as a result of a reactor failure," Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Assistant Chief Brian Kokkila told CBS News. "This is a catastrophic failure of a reactor, which is part of the power grid."
On July 25, Duquesne Light Co. said the incident had caused no injuries, public threats, power outages or disruptions.
A search for news reports of widespread power outages along the East Coast revealed no evidence of a massive outage in the region or specifically in Pennsylvania.
We rate the claim that the massive explosions affected U.S. critical infrastructure in the past 24 hours False.
Facebook post, Aug. 3, 2023
YouTube video, July 26, 2023
CBS News Pittsburgh, Crews extinguish large fire on Brunot Island after reactor 'catastrophically failed,' July 25, 2023
The Associated Press, Gas pipeline explodes near interstate in rural Virginia; no injuries reported, July 25, 2023
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Threat Actors Exploiting Citrix CVE-2023-3519 to Implant Webshells, July 20, 2023
Post on X, July 24, 2023
Duquesne Light Co. Facebook post, July 25, 2023
PolitiFact, The White House did not issue ‘official’ warning about imminent attack to critical infrastructure, Aug. 2, 2023
U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Corrective Action Order CPF No. 1-2023-051-CAO, July 28, 2023
WHSV 3, Possible cause of Strasburg gas line explosion found, Aug. 1, 2023
TC Energy, TC Energy responds to incident in Virginia, July 31, 2023
The City of Pittsburgh, Fire, EMS, Police Respond for Explosion and Large Fire on Brunot Island, July 25, 2023
PowerOutage.us, accessed Aug. 7, 2023
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