Commission Meeting News

PUD Commissioners review independent investigation of Rock Island Dam Fatality

by Kimberlee Craig | Mar 04, 2019

Chelan County PUD Board of Commissioners Monday reviewed an independent investigation into the factors that led to the tragic fatality of PUD employee Eddie Bromiley in June 2018.

The incident involved a heavy steel beam falling during the lifting of a spillway gate. The investigation included multiple site visits, 25 interviews with staff and review of historical records, reports, design drawings and internal communications. (At 0:48 on the board audio recording.)

The investigation concludes that, for the most part, latent design weakness from the 1990s was the engineering root cause.  At least one employee recalls there being a recognition of the design weakness in the 1990s. But the lack of procedures for documenting safety concerns in the 1990s led to none of the PUD employees associated with the spillway operation at the time of the incident being aware of the design issue or its risk.

The investigator’s report identifies three engineering recommendations and two human and organizational performance improvement recommendations. The PUD has committed to fully implementing all five recommendations. These cover areas such as changes to dam spillway design, new procedures for crane lifts and assessment of employees’ awareness of safety reporting systems.

The report identifies 11 additional considerations. Some of those items already were addressed, and the PUD will fully evaluate all of the remainder for action, said General Manager Steve Wright.

“Since June, we have been keenly focused on supporting an investigation that needed to be thorough, comprehensive, and was completely candid with its advice and recommendations,” Wright said. “We are committed to using that information to make the PUD a safer work environment.”

The report from the independent investigation, conducted by the Lane Powell law firm of Seattle, is available on the PUD website.

In other business, commissioners:

  •  Congratulated electrical engineer Adam Couey for taking ownership and doing extra research when he heard plans for “lock-out/tag-out” on a project that “didn’t seem right to him.” His quick work got vital information added to the plan for safety before work started, protecting contractors and District staff. (00:07)
  • Applauded Jim Caldwell, transmission engineer, and Steve Wickel, transmission engineering manager, for the good news that their wildfire risk assessment received regional and national engineering awards from the American Council of Engineering Companies.
  • Reviewed capital funding needs for Rock Island Dam through 2020 and a recommendation to use an internal loan from District cash reserves to meet an expected gap in dedicated funds from long-term power contracts. Heather Irelan, lead treasury analyst, said using available cash follows the board-affirmed debt “philosophy” and benefits customers by using existing cash balances, reducing new debt and interest costs and keeping PUD finances strong.  Commissioners will be asked to act on a proposed internal loan of up to $87 million on March 18. Proposed terms are 25 years at about 4.5 percent interest. (00:25)
  • Received an update on managing the level of Lake Chelan during what is forecast to be a below-average water year, even with last month’s snowfall. Energy Resources Analyst John Wasniewski said basin snowpack remains at about 80 percent of average, but still within normal operating range. He expects lake level to meet the July 1 lake level target, although power generation may be reduced. (01:55)
  • Heard from John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director that a survey of customer-owners on issues important to the utility is expected to begin later this week. The Cocker Fennessy research firm will contact Chelan County households – some by email, some by phone – over a two-week period as part of strategic planning. (01:50)

Upcoming events:

  • · March 8-10 – KPQ Home and Garden Show, Town Toyota Center
  • March 13 – Community “drop-in” session update on the proposed new substation & transmission line “hardening,” 3:30-5:30 p.m. Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, 216 E. Woodin, Chelan  
  • March 18 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom 
  • March 29 – Northwest Mariachi Festival, Town Toyota Center

Service Center open houses, 4-6 p.m.:

  •  March 18 – Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, 127 S. Mission, Wenatchee
  • March 19 – Cashmere Riverside Center, 201 Riverside Drive 
  • March 20 – Chelan County Fire 3 station, Leavenworth, 228 Chumstick Hwy 
  • March 21 – Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, Chelan, 216 E. Woodin Ave
  • March 25 – Entiat Fire Hall, 2200 Entiat Way

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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 18, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org. Find us at Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.

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