Lava from the Kilauea volcano covered at least one well at a geothermal power plant on the Big Island on Sunday, according to a Hawaii County Civil Defense report, Fox News informed.
According to the report, the well was successfully capped in anticipation of the lava flow, and a second well 100 feet away has also been plugged. The plugs were applied in order to protect against the release of gas that could turn toxic when mixed with lava.
The lava has entered the property overnight. David Mace, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the flow started about 200 yards away from the nearest well. But he said safety precautions were issued before the breach.
“I think it’s safe to say authorities have been concerned about the flow of lava onto the plant property since the eruption started,” he stated.
Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, was closed shortly after Kilauea started throwing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the Earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas named pentane is part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons of this gas from the plant to minimize the chance of blasts. They also covered the 11 wells at the property to try to prevent a breach.
Before the lava reached the well, plant spokesman Mike Kaleikini told the news agency Hawaii News Now that there was no indication of the release of the poisonous gas hydrogen sulfide — the greatest fear should lava hit the wells.