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Some Leilani Estates residents ordered to evacuate immediately

  • U.S. Geological Survey photo An a'a lava flow from fissures 7 and 21 move northeast from Leilani Estates on Saturday. Lava continues to breach the Puna Geothermal Venture site on Sunday, officials said.

UPDATE 8:00 p.m.: Hawaii County Civil Defense has ordered Leilani Estates residents on Nohea and Luana streets between Leilani Avenue and Kahukai, and on Kupono Street between Malama Street and Leilani Avenue to evacuate immediately because of fast moving lava from fissure No. 7. Pet-friendly shelters are open at the Pahoa and Keaau community centers, and at Sure Foundation church in Keaau.

UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: Hawaii County Civil Defense reports that lava from fissures No. 7 and 21 have covered a geothermal production well at Puna Geothermal Venture.

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That well, KS-6, along with a second well about 100 yards away have been “successfully plugged” and “are stable and secured, and are being monitored,” according to the agency’s 6 p.m. message.

“Also due to preventative measures, neither well is expected to release any hydrogen sulfide,” the message said.

UPDATE 4:18 p.m.: Lava from Kilauea volcano was within “a couple of feet” of a production well at Puna Geothermal Venture this afternoon, according to an official for the deactivated lower Puna powerplant.

“It was right next to the well when I spoke to the guys earlier at the location,” Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii affairs said during the afternoon media briefing. “It looks like, if the flow continues, that it will probably cover the well.”

Kaleikini said he doesn’t “anticipate any compromise of the well’s mechanical integrity.”

“We don’t anticipate any emissions of H2S (hydrogen sulfide) from our geothermal wells,” he said.

Kaleikini’s assessment was shared by Gov. David Ige, who was on hand for the briefing and Tom Travis, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Director and head of a task force set up by Ige.

“We have worked to make the wells safe and mitigate any hazard in the community,” Travis said. He said he thought lava was “approaching or in contact with well KS-6 as we speak.”

Kaleikini said there are three production wells and an injection well are on well pad E, which includes KS-14, which workers were unable to quench. All the wells have been plugged with a master valve topped with cinder, according to Travis. KS-14 was plugged with a clay-like substance called barite, Kaleikini said.

Kaleikini said there are two other well pads which are at a higher elevation and one well on another pad, KS-9, which still displays activity “at a lower pressure” than KS-14.

“We’ve got a pretty good handle on that. We’re getting ready to put a plug in that, also.

“… I just want to emphasize from our perspective, PGV and (parent company) Ormat, that we don’t anticipate any compromise of the wells’ mechanical integrity. We don’t anticipate any emissions of H2S from our geothermal wells,” he said.

UPDATE 12:47 p.m.: Steve Brantley, deputy scientist-in-charge at Hawaiian Volcano observatory, said the lava flow on Puna Geothermal Venture property appears to have stopped advancing.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported this morning that a lava flow in Leilani Estates crossed overnight into Puna Geothermal Venture property.

David Mace of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the lava is on the 40 acres of the 815-acre property that house the geothermal wells and the deactivated powerplant.

“At this time, the lava is, at various points, 200 yards from active wells,” Mace said. He added that PGV employees are still on the property and have not been evacuated.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, no hydrogen sulfide gas has been detected at the site and a special task force headed by Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Travis continues to work to make the wells safe and to prevent any threats to the public from developing.

Lava flow crossed into PGV property overnight but has not impacted any wells.

A new fissure, No. 24 is also reported by HVO, in Leilani Estates between Kupono and Nohea streets. The fissure is not threatening any property, according to Civil Defense.

Volcanic gases and vog emissions may increase in areas downwind of the Lower East Rift Zone lava vents. Areas among Kamaili Road are experiencing elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, Civil Defense said.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports they are lowering the speed limit on Highway 130 between Leilani Estates and Kamaili Road to 25 miles per hour as a safety measure because of steel plates installed over cracks caused by volcanic activity.

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See Monday’s edition of the Tribune-Herald for a full story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.