/R E P E A T -- "Stay Clear! Stay Safe" as warm weather melts snow/

Feb 12, 2009

    Spring-like conditions mean dangerous ice and fast, cold water

    TORONTO, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - With spring like temperatures this week, The
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are urging
people to exercise extreme care around Ontario waterways, particularly those
that are near hydroelectric stations and dams.
    "Our message is: Stay Clear! Stay Safe! The warm temperatures and
rainfall will create conditions you'd expect to see in the spring, not
February," said John Murphy, OPG's Executive Vice President Hydroelectric.
"This could result in ice that's thinner than expected and water flows that
are higher and faster than normal," he added.
    OPP Sergeant Karen Harrington added: "Earlier this week a large number of
people had to be rescued from an ice flow on Lake Erie, so this is a very real
danger. People cannot last long when they fall into icy waters."
    Most hydroelectric facilities are remotely controlled by operators who
may be kilometers away. To meet the fluctuating demand for electricity
throughout the day, these operators open or close dams or start or stop
generators as needed. This causes frequent and rapid changes in the water flow
and levels often creating strong undertows, turbulence and sudden, powerful
gushes of water moving downstream in what was once calm looking surface water.
    All waterways where an OPG dam or hydroelectric station is located have
well-positioned warning signs, buoys, fences, booms and barriers. "We urge
everyone to obey these warning signs and barriers," Murphy said. "They are
there for the public's safety and to let everyone know that the areas around
the signs are dangerous, so stay clear."
    Harrington noted that the warm weather may bring more people outside, and
that people stay away from the edge of waterways where footing may be
slippery; do not wade into moving water; be aware of changing water levels or
any sign of increased currents and always stay a safe distance outside of
warnings and barriers.

    OPG offers the public a number of educational materials on water safety
around dams and hydroelectric stations including a brochure, a DVD for adults
and an educational interactive computer game for children. The OPP and OPG
also have a television ad that warns people to stay clear, and stay safe near
hydroelectric dams and stations. You can view the ad, or request free
educational materials by visiting www.opg.com

For further information:

For further information: OPG MEDIA CONTACT: Media Desk - 1-877-592-4008
or (416) 592-4008; OPP MEDIA CONTACT: Sgt Karen Harrington, Marine Programs,
Ontario Provincial Police, Off: (705) 329-6125, Cell: (705) 330-2860