Powell operated a small smuggling ring, paying Cole to store his items. When Commander Shepard's squad arrives at Eden Prime, they meet Powell near Nihlus's corpse. Powell was sleeping behind the crates during his shift and this saved his life when the geth attacked the planet. Shepard can confront Powell about his smuggling ring and convince him to part with useful items. Shepard can further persuade Powell to part with some prototype technology.
Powell also describes how he witnessed Saren Arterius murder of his fellow Spectre, Nihlus, and points the Commander in Saren's direction, along the cargo train. Powell is later contacted by the Alliance for an official testimony to support their accusations against Saren, but the salarian Councilor claims the word of "one traumatised dockworker" is insufficient evidence of Saren's alleged treachery.