Lava flow closes in on Hawaii power plant

Elias Hubbard
May 23, 2018

Hawaiian authorities scrambled Tuesday to protect a major power plant from approaching lava, in the latest threat from renewed eruption of the Big Island's Kilauea volcano almost three weeks ago.

Underground wells bring up steam and hot liquid, and the steam feeds a turbine generator. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.

The wells at the PGV plant are between 1,828.80m to 8,000 feet deep (1,830 to 2,440 meters). The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy demand.

"It hit him on the shin and shattered everything there down on his leg", County of Hawaii government spokeswoman Janet Snyder said.

The building was owned by the state of Hawaii. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

Stovall says the flying fragments could land on boats on the water. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

While some officials fret over the potential of toxic gas being released from the PGV plant, others are concerned about the threat of laze. But in some places in the U.S.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said if lava interacts with the wells, it could release risky hydrogen sulfide gas. The plant is expected to begin operating "as soon as it is safe to do so", according to the statement.

A National Park Service report published last month estimated that those visitors spent $166 million in communities nearby previous year - spending that "supported 2,020 jobs in the local area, and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $222,394,900".

An explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at 3:45 a.m. (9:45 a.m. EST) sent ash to a height of 8,000 feet over Hawaii's Big Island, civil defense said. Geologists say the volcano has entered into a more violent phase, in which larger amounts of molten rock are pouring out from fissures and travelling further than before.

Darryl Clinton told the Honolulu television station KHON that he was on the roof of a home helping to put out fires from flying rocks on Saturday morning.

Doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks.

No major injuries have been reported from lava haze.

Laze itself is not enough to cause serious burns, Babb said, unless someone is right on top of where lava enters the ocean.

Some residents in Hawaii's Big Island are standing their ground against the fury of the Kilauea volcano as they try to protect their properties and their lives.

About 3 miles to the east of the plant on the coast, noxious clouds of acid fumes, steam and fine glass-like particles billowed into the sky as lava poured into the ocean from two lava flows.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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