Hawaii geothermal plant plugs wells as lava flows nearby

24 May, 2018, 09:40 | Author: Miranda Cannon
  • Blackout not expected in Hawaii even if lava reaches power plant, officials say

Ormat is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and shares have fallen almost 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

The nearby Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, captured a time-lapse glimpse at Kilauea from Monday night into Tuesday morning as the light from the volcano and its almost two-dozen fissures beamed through the clouds.

Seven scientific instruments aboard five NASA and partner satellites helped answer this question and have provided a wealth of other important data - the composition and size of newly emitted volcanic plumes, for example, and how, exactly, the movement of molten rock underground is deforming the ground on the Big Island.

Lava edged toward a geothermal power plant on Tuesday after destroying an old warehouse near the facility, County of Hawaii Civil Defense said.

Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre (330-hectare) property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy about 40 acres (16 hectares).

Ten wells were "quenched", which cools them with cold water, and the last was plugged with mud. The geothermal plant uses heat and steam from the earth's core to spin turbines that generate power. Officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons of pentane from the plant to reduce the possibility of explosions.

Lava has already destroyed almost 50 buildings including dozens of homes.


Jessica Ferracane, park spokeswoman, said preparations are ongoing to reopen Chain of Craters Road as an emergency evacuation route through the park, should lava make Highway 130 impassable.

Beyond the immediate fire danger from the lava, high levels of sulfur dioxide spewing from the volcano pose a serious threat to children, elderly people, and people with respiratory issues, the United States Geological Survey said. Kilauea's summit is now belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day up from 6,000 tons (5443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption.

Scientists say the methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava. One man was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava.

"It hit and it set me on fire and it basically snapped my leg in half about right above the ankle", Clinton said as if he were discussing the weather.

About 3 miles (4.8 km) 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 flows.

The molten rock started pouring into the sea over the weekend.

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