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Kilauea lava flows threaten geothermal power plant

Kilauea lava flows threaten geothermal power plant

“To our knowledge, no one has faced this before.”

We have been following the eruptions of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, and noted in an earlier report that thousands of gallons of flammable liquid was being removed from a nearby geothermal power plant as a protective measure.

It’s a good thing that they took these measures. The facility is now being threatened by a lava flow.

The lava flow entered the 800-acre property of the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant on Monday and had stalled at a swale about 300 yards from the nearest underground well. On Tuesday, the lava was advancing.

“Fissure 6 reactivated last night and has been erupting since around midnight,” Hawaii County civil defense officials said in a statement. “The flows from Fissure 6 are slowly flowing closer to PGV property.”

If lava breaches wells, authorities fear it could release hydrogen sulfide, a toxic and flammable gas. Most of the wells have been capped with thick steel plates.

Thomas Travis, an administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, has warned that the intense heat could weaken the metal.

“That’s why having lava flow across the well causes some uncertainties that have to be dealt with,” he said. “To our knowledge, no one has faced this before.”

As of this date, there have been two significant eruptions at the summit that released ash and sulfur dioxide thousands of feet into the atmosphere. A number of fissures have been spewing lava almost continuously, and the lava has pushed its way two and a half miles and is flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall says the volcano is belching 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each day from ground vents that have formed since May 3.

She says volumes of the gas spiked when the vents began gushing more lava and rivers of molten rock started streaming toward the ocean over the weekend.

Before the Leilani Estates eruption, the volcano’s summit had been releasing an average of 3,000 to 6,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each day.

America’s green justice warriors should get busy: Kilauea is clearly in violation of the EPA’s limits for sulfur dioxide.

In my last report, I noted that the dust masks being issued to Hawaiians would not protect against gas or lava bombs. My point was proven, as the first injury related to this eruption cycle has been reported.

That person, identified only as a homeowner on Noni Farms Road, shattered his leg from his shin to his foot when lava spatter struck him, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, according to Reuters.

Lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator, and even small pieces of spatter can kill,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

It does not look like Kilauea is slowing down any time soon.


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