Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Threatens Crucial Israeli-Owned Power Plant

Glen Norman
May 26, 2018

Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue methane flames burning from cracks in the pavement as the volcano gushes lava in the background.

Nighttime photos released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey show the flames spouting from road cracks in the Leilani Estates neighborhood where the volcano has been sending up lava through vents in the ground. The methane can also explode when heated.

Big Island residents have endured thousands of earthquakes, relentless lava flow and risky levels of sulfur dioxide since the Kilauea volcano erupted earlier this month.

Workers in Hawaii plugging energy wells as lava flows nearby

Hawaii News Now said rivers of lava continued to threaten homes, with eruptions releasing unsafe gases. Since the volcano began erupting in early May, it's destroyed dozens of homes and other structures and send thousands of evacuees packing.

One person has suffered a serious leg injury from flying lava spatter.

"Fissures near Puna Geothermal Venture are active and producing lava slowly flowing onto the property", Civil Defense said in a statement.


"It's very dramatic. It's very eerie", USGS scientist Jim Kauahikaua said.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense agency warned in its latest bulletin that residents downwind of Kilauea should take care to avoid exposure to ash, which can cause eye irritation and breathing difficulties, particularly in people with respiratory problems.

Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said the methane could cause explosions when it ignited while trapped underground. Geologists say the volcano has entered into a more violent phase, in which larger amounts of molten rock are pouring out from fissures and travelling further than before. Inland, where molten rock is burning through jungle, methane explosions are hurling boulders while toxic gas is reaching some of the highest levels seen in recent times. 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.


On Tuesday, officials finished stabilizing wells that bring up hot liquid and steam to feed a turbine generator.

Ross Birch, Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau director, said cruise ships will return to Kona and Hilo in the next few weeks after canceling stops because of the volcano.

Kilauea's eruption on the Big Island began on May 3 at a distance of 24 kilometers from the plant.


Roach told CNN she believes the intense heat of the lava bomb actually cauterized the wound, preventing it from bleeding more than it did.

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