HONOLULU (Reuters) - A new lava flow from Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano edged towards a geothermal power plant on Tuesday after destroying a warehouse at the facility, after the volcano entered a more violent phase at the weekend.
Workers at the now closed Puna Geothermal Venture, which provided around 25 percent of electricity on Hawaii’s Big Island, scrambled to cap the last of three deep wells to reduce the risks of an uncontrolled release of toxic gases should they be inundated by lava.
The race at the site marked the latest challenge facing authorities during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at Kilauea’s summit and from giant volcanic cracks or fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its eastern flank.
A lava flow from one of the fissures entered the 815-acre (330-hectare) geothermal plant complex on Monday night and destroyed a warehouse, County of Hawaii government spokeswoman Janet Snyder said.
Another fissure reactivated on Tuesday and sent lava flowing slowly in the direction of the plant, County of Hawaii Civil Defense said in a tweet.
Snyder said none of the wells were in imminent danger, as the flow was barely moving and still several hundred yards (meters) from the plant.
The latest explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at around 1 a.m. (6 a.m. EST) sent a plume of ash over Hawaii’s Big Island, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported in a statement.
“Communities downwind should be prepared for ashfall as long as this activity continues,” the observatory said.
The geothermal plant has been closed since shortly after lava began erupting on May 3 through newly opened fissures in the ground running through neighborhoods and roads in an area near the community of Pahoa.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hawaii-volcano/lava-flow-torches-warehouse-at-hawaii-geothermal-plant-idUSKCN1IN31J