Dam Operator Promises Cooperation with Investigation into Fisherman’s Death

Brookfield Power says it will cooperate fully with an investigation into an incident on the Oswego River near its Varick Dam Tuesday.

Four fishermen were swept away in fast-moving waters.  One of the fishermen died.  Oswego Police Wednesday afternoon identified the victim as Leonard M. Nichols, 45, of Wellsburg.  Another fisherman, Clifford Luther, 52, of Horseheads, is in serious condition at Oswego Hospital, according to the police department.

The investigation will look into whether water from the dam was released, and whether pre-release alarms sounded.  In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the police department said the alarms did sound:

“Further investigation into the incident has determined that audible alerts were given in the area regarding the risk of rising water. The investigation continues regarding the timeframe in which the alerts were given and when the water actually began to rise.”

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the company issued a statement, attributed to Kim Osmars, Chief Operating Officer of Brookfield Renewable Power’s U.S. Operations:

“We are grateful for the work of all of those involved in the response to the tragedy that occurred yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time. We’ve initiated a complete and thorough investigation of our safety and operations protocols, and are cooperating fully with local authorities. I have asked Brookfield’s Chief Dam Safety Officer, Jeff Auser, to take charge of this investigation and he is on site now.”

The company will make a formal statement Wednesday afternoon at the Varick Dam.