Escape road threatened, geothermal wells to be killed as lava approaches h gas l gas unterschied


In a related development, authorities announced they are moving forward with a plan to kill three active geothermal wells on the Puna Geothermal Venture site by injecting them with cold water and sealing them with iron plugs. Tom Travis, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said the effort to pump cold water in the wells could begin as early as today or Wednesday.

“Our way forward is to kill — and maintain kill — on all of the geothermal wells,” he said. That involves using the weight of the cold water to suppress steam and hot water in the wells, and then installing plugs into the wells. Until the plugs are installed, cold water will need to be injected repeatedly, he said.

The PGV plant, which had supplied an estimated 25 percent of the island’s energy, was shut down soon after the Leilani Estates lava outbreak began May 3. Travis said it is possible that the wells could be made functional again, but “that’s a question for another day.”

“Our first and foremost priority is to ensure that we can keep the community safe,” Ige said. “If that means we have to fly in and expedite the equipment, then we’re going to do it.” The news that the wells would be killed was greeted with relief by some.

Cindy Mata, a Nanawale Estates resident, said she doesn’t believe the geothermal plant had the proper closing procedures in place and moved too slowly to remove explosive pentane gas. She said the plant shouldn’t be allowed to operate after this threat passes because of the time it took for them to remove the gas after the first fissure.

That highway is the highest-­capacity route in and out of the Kalapana area, serving the communities of Kaimu, Opihikao and the Seaview Estates and Black Sand Beach subdivisions, but state officials announced May 7 that it was closed between Pahoa and Old Kalapana Road because of widening cracks in the pavement at mile markers 14.4 and 14.6.

However, on Monday USGS scientists reported lava from Fissure 17 appeared to be moving along the southern edge of a 1955 lava flow, which may be effectively steering the fresh lava to the east and Highway 137. “Now that we see the risk extending towards (Highway) 137, if that gets cut off, then the route has got to go back to (Highway) 130 again,” Sniffen said. “So, we’re looking at options to minimize any risk at 130.”

Another possibility would be to use prefabricated concrete slabs that can resist heat of up to 2,000 degrees to build a bridge over any hazard that threatens Highways 130 or 137, and there’s also the possibility of reopening Chain of Craters Road leading to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, he said.

Civil Defense officials announced that the Hawaii County Fire Department detected high levels of sulfur dioxide gas Monday afternoon from fissures in the southeastern area of Lanipuna Gardens, which already was under a mandatory evacuation. Authorities, however, warned anyone who remained behind of immediate health danger — including choking and inability to breathe.

The National Weather Service issued an alert through Monday evening for residents in southern areas of the Big Island who could be affected by “very light ashfall” from Halemaumau Crater on Kilauea’s summit, which released a burst of volcanic emissions at about 9 a.m. Monday that was visible on satellite and web cameras.