Fears of massive explosion as Hawaii lava flow reaches power station

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Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been erupting for pretty much the entire month of May, slowly oozing molten rock out of several fissures in the ground.

The Hawaii News Now website reported the residents living near the 38 MW PGV received alert via text message from Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency about 6:15 am Sunday, saying lava flew into PGV property overnight.

The wells at the Puna Geothermal Venture site have been capped to prevent the release of toxic gas that can result from mixing with lava.

The Hawaii Civil Defence Agency said the wells "are stable and secure", and Hawaii's Gov. David Ige said the plant was "sufficiently safe" from the lava that has plowed through backyards and streets and burned dozens of homes. That lava flow has stopped on the property so there is no risk, for now, to the other nine wells.

The geothermal plant has been already shut down and 60,000 gallons of flammable liquid at the start of the volcanic activity has been removed.

Ormat said the plant represented about 4.5 percent of its total generating capacity and that major damage or a shutdown could have an "adverse impact" on the company's business.

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The lava flow has destroyed more than 80 structures, up from 50 earlier in the week and authorities expect that number to rise.

Magma has drained from Kilauea's summit lava lake and flowed around 40km east underground, bursting out of about two dozen giant cracks or fissures.

So far, the eruptions have been responsible for one injury, but no deaths.

Light winds are expected to push volcanic gases westward, increasing the presence of ash and sulfur dioxide downwind of the Kilauea summit, the National Weather Service said on Monday.

Since this eruption episode began on May 3, Hawaii County has ordered about 2,000 people to evacuate from Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods.

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