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PGV stuck between lava river, fissures

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Lava flanks Puna Geothermal Venture on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.

Puna Geothermal Venture remains stuck in a precarious spot between a river of lava and a line of fissures that have gone quiet.

Mike Kaleikini, PGV’s senior director of Hawaii affairs, said employees can no longer access the site by road, but most of the plant has been spared destruction. So far, a warehouse and a substation have been destroyed, and two well pads have been covered by lava.

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“We went in two days ago to take a look and didn’t see much of a change,” he said Sunday.

“It looks we might have to go in with an alternate route, with a helicopter or something.”

Kaleikini said there have been no well blowouts, a concern some had if lava damaged them. Civil Defense officials and PGV worked to quench or plug the wells to prevent an incident.

He said there have been no decisions made about the future of the 38-megawatt power plant.

“We have to see what happens, and hopefully one day it stops and we can assess,” Kaleikini said.

He said the plant employs 30 people, and no one has been laid off.

Kaleikini said PGV staff have been volunteering at evacuation shelters or helping with Puuhonua O Puna, which has been providing aid to be people affected by the disaster.

“Everyone is still employed; there’s no plans to layoff anyone,” he said.

“We’re going to keep everyone going as long as we can.”

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Hawaii Electric Light Co. says it is making up the loss of PGV’s output with other sources.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.