Production wells have been plugged and cooled with cold water to prevent the leaking of toxic gases
Following significant activity from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, a geothermal power plant under threat of encroaching lava has plugged its production wells in order to prevent the release of toxic gases. Since the onset of volcanic activity, the Puna Geothermal has been a point of concern for citizens who fear heat generated could interact with chemicals used or toxic substances could be released.
Ten wells at the plant had to be “quenched,” or cooled down with cold water in order to fend off the volcanic pressure from below. Gas levels are being monitored closely, and any abnormal spike in such levels could potentially prompt a mass evacuation due to potential meltdown conditions being reached at the plant.
The plant has been a point of contention amongst citizens since its creation in 1998, as it is believed by many to be built on sacred land. However, scientists claim the location of the plant makes it primed to harness renewable energy from the earth.
“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “...it’s just hotter (in some places), and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”
As recent as May 15, 2018, it was believed the lava will not reach the physical facility, but until the such things are for sure, the plant will continue to halt operations, all including wastewater, and remain on standby until it is safe to resume.