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Salton Sea - Geothermal, Former Employee Sues


Last updated 7/27/2016 at 9:03am

A former employee of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the owners of 10 geothermal plants on the Salton Sea, is suing his former employers.

Graeme Donaldson, who now works for the IID as the utility's Salton Sea program manager, claims he was illegally fired from his job running geothermal power plants for Berkshire Hathaway after preparing a "minimum spend" budget plan for 2016, and airing concerns regarding safety.

Donaldson told Berkshire management that under the proposed "minimum spend" budget, "there was a substantial risk the plant operations would be at reduced safety and create unlawful safety risks for the defendants' employees and outside vendors and contractors." He claims the budget proposal "created the potential for significant leaks and the release of toxic, corrosive and potentially radioactive materials or substances," according to the complaint.

Berkshire spokesperson Debora Blume, states CalEnergy "has the appropriate business plans, practices and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our employees and members of the public."

Officials claim royalty payments from geothermal developers could be used to fund environmental projects around the Salton Sea. According to IID spokesperson Marion Champion, the geothermal company has "pledged more than $1 billion in capital improvements to their existing facilities to sustain Salton Sea operations for another 30 years.".

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