Hawaiians are scrambling to prevent a catastrophe as lava from the Big Island's Kilauea Volcano is approaching a power plant facility, and officials fear that it could trigger the release of toxic gas.
Lava flows from fissures near Pahoa, Hawaii.
Aside from potentially destroying costly infrastructure that provides part of the Big Island's power, the lava's encroachment on PGV could trigger an explosive release of unsafe chemicals from the active wells. So far, 10 of the 11 wells at the geothermal plant have been quenched, according to agency officials.
Geologists say that the Kilauea explosion is significant and especially risky because both the summit and a series of fissures on its side are exploding simultaneously.
Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at the plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.
Lava destroyed a building near the plant, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to almost 50, including dozens of homes.
"From our perspective, there's nothing that could occur at the PGV facility at the wells that would be any worse than what's already occurring with the eruption", Mike Kaleikini, senior director of Hawaii affairs for the plant, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
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Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada's Ormat Technologies, was shut down earlier this month shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. Workers have also managed to remove 60,000 gallons (227,124 litres) of pentane, a highly flammable and noxious liquid that's used at the plant.
On Tuesday the County of Hawaii office warned of an eruption in the Lower Rift East Zone, reporting major lava flows creeping out from vents in the ground. Hot steam and water from these wells drive turbines to produce electricity.
Besides explosive eruptions from the summit, Kilauea is oozing lava into neighborhoods about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away.
He was outside his home Saturday in the remote, rural region affected by the volcano when the lava 'hit him on the shin and shattered everything from there down on his leg, ' Janet Snyder, Hawaii County mayor's spokeswoman, told the Hawaii News Now TV station.
The injury came the same day that lava began streaming across a highway and flowing into the ocean. Inland, where molten rock is burning through jungle, methane explosions are hurling boulders while toxic gas is reaching some of the highest levels seen in recent times. "Laze", as scientists call it, is generated when the molten rock interacts with the sea and is cooled off.
The ongoing eruptions have severely impacted Hawaii's tourism-driven economy, and have forced over 2,000 people to evacuate their homes. There's also no end to the flow of red-hot lava, and now there's another new danger: a rogue lava flow that's pooling on the edge of a geothermal plant.