Volcano Lava Reaches Geothermal Plant and Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, Risking Public Health Disaster

On the Big Island in Hawaii, the Kilauea volcano is continuing to erupt, spewing plumes of ash and lava. Lava is flowing increasingly close to the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, or PGV, which provides 25 percent of the Big Island’s energy. Workers are rushing to shut down the power plant to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases from the site. The PGV came online in 1989 amid controversy over its location on what some residents say is sacred land. Many native Hawaiians believe the volcano is home to Pele, the goddess of fire. Others say that though geothermal energy is renewable, the plant poses risks to the health of residents and the environment. In Honolulu, we speak with Brittany Lyte, a reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat. Her recent article is titled “Workers Scramble to Seal Wells at Geothermal Plant Threatened by Lava.”

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We now turn to Hawaii’s Big Island, where the Kilauea volcano is continuing to erupt, spewing plumes of ash and lava. Workers are rushing to shut down a nearby geothermal power plant to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases from the site. Lava is flowing increasingly close to the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, or PGV, which provides 25 percent of the Big Island’s energy. Hawaii officials held a press conference on Tuesday to provide an update. This is Governor David Ige.

GOV. DAVID IGE: We’ve been monitoring what’s happening at PGV, constantly watching the lava flow and the threat to the PGV plant. Tremendous progress has been made in the last 24 hours, as you know. Ten of the 11 wells are quenched. We do believe that KS-14, the last well, is plugged. And, you know, we feel that we are at a safe place now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: PGV came online in 1989 amid controversy over its location on what some residents say is sacred land. Many native Hawaiians believe the volcano is home to Pele, the goddess of fire. Others say…

Read more