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Israeli-owned geothermal plant in Hawaii under fire as lava oozes nearby

Times of Israel

PAHOA, Hawaii — Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at an Israeli-owned geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Workers were capping the 11th and last well at the plant to prevent toxic gases from wafting out after lava entered, then stalled, on the property near one of the new volcanic vents.  

“Right now, they’re in a safe state,” Mike Kaleikini, senior director of Hawaii affairs for the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, said of the wells. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.

The wells run as far as 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) underground at the plant, which covers around 40 acres (16 hectares) of the 815-acre (329.8 hectare) property. The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy demand.

Lava destroyed a building near the plant, bringing the total number of structures destroyed in the past several weeks to nearly 50, including dozens of homes. The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, overtaken by lava on Monday night, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The building was owned by the state of Hawaii, and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.

Puna Geothermal, owned by Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

Founded in Yavne, Israel, Ormat is today headquartered in Nevada. Its main manufacturing facilities remain in Israel.

Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they believe is built on sacred land. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name. Other residents have voiced concerns over health and safety.

In this photo provided by the US Geological Survey, red ash rises from the Puu Oo vent on Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano after a magnitude-5.0 earthquake struck the Big Island, Thursday, May 3, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Kevan Kamibayashi/US Geological Survey via AP)

Scientists, however, say the conditions on Kilauea make it a good site for harnessing the earth for renewable energy.

“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. But in some places in the U.S. “it’s just hotter, and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”

Geothermal energy is also considered a clean resource as it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas emissions, said Bridget Ayling, the director of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.

Ormat said in a May 15 statement that there was a low risk of surface lava making its way to the facility. The company also said there was no damage to the facilities above-ground and that it was continuing to assess the impact. The plant is expected to begin operating “as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to the statement.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat’s worldwide generating capacity. Last year, the Hawaii plant generated about $11 million of net income for the company. Ormat is traded on the New York and Tel Aviv stock exchange, and shares have fallen nearly 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

A steam plume rises as lava enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn, after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure, on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 22, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

Kilauea sparked new safety warnings on Monday about toxic gas on the Big Island’s southern coastline after lava flowing into the ocean set off a chemical reaction. Large steam plumes created lava haze, or “laze,” laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass shards when it flowed into the sea.

It’s just the latest hazard from a weeks-old eruption that has so far generated earthquakes and featured gushing molten rock, giant ash plumes and sulfur dioxide. There has been continuous low-level ash emission from Kilauea’s summit with larger explosions every few hours, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-owned-geothermal-plant-in-hawaii-under-fire-as-lava-oozes-nearby/

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4 Responses to Israeli-owned geothermal plant in Hawaii under fire as lava oozes nearby

  1. Joe says:

    Did fracking cause the Hawaii volcano eruption?

    On the Big Island of Hawaii, where the Kilauea volcano has explosively erupted, there is a geothermal energy plant. It is the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) Plant, in Puna.

    There is a long-running debate about whether PGV is fracking. The debate may be a matter of terminology, because in the geothermal process, as hawaiifracking.com reports, “…the drilling and the injection of cold water into hot rocks used in geothermal energy plants does fracture the rocks, which can induce earthquakes and through contamination of the atmosphere and water tables can affect our health and safety.”

    So, on the Big Island of Hawaii, where there is a massive volcanic eruption underway, there is a geothermal plant, PGV. How close to the volcano is PGV?

    The Washington Post, May 12: “Long a concern for residents and the target of lawsuits challenging its placement ON AN ACTIVE VOLCANO, the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) is a major safety issue [i.e., chemicals stored at PGV] in the wake of the eruptions and earthquakes that have shaken the Big Island for days, government officials say.” (emphasis added)

    I see. PGV is ON the volcano. Other reports claim PGV is 15 miles from the volcano. In either case, PGV is close, very close.

    Who owns PGV? Ormat Technologies. Through internal merger and stock swapping, Ormat appears to be a jointly owned Israeli and US company now.

    Ormat is no stranger to scandals. At blog.heartland.org, H Sterling Burnett writes (4/1/15): One scandal that could haunt [Harry] Reid for his remaining time in the Senate (and possibly beyond) was reported on recently in the Washington Free Beacon and Courthouse News. It seems the Reid helped the green energy company, Ormat Technologies, a firm that owns and manages geothermal plants in California and Hawaii, secure nearly $136 million in economic stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

    Read More:
    https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/did-fracking-cause-the-hawaii-volcano-eruption/

    • Jolly Roger says:

      That’s a good question, and a distinct possibility, but since it’s a volcanic island, they’ll never be blamed for it.

  2. Jolly Roger says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an Earthquake or volcano blow the entire nation of Israel to smithereens.

    • Mia says:

      Israel is currently filling up their underground tunnels (under excuse of Palestinians doing something there), while at the same time they send their Mossad, CIA, MI6 agents to dig the tunnels in Syria, Iraq, Balkans and everywhere, to prepare the ground for their HAARPing satanic queen Pat Morrison (of The Damned punk + DARPA agent) to cause the global mass catastrophe. What people should do everwhere is follow what IsraHell does in thos regard, and fill in their undergr. tunnels, especially in mountaneous areas, because if we leave them hollow, the artificially caused earthquakes are gonna be devastating, and no army will help us against their prepared hordes.

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