Two wells at Puna Geothermal Venture are now covered by lava.
Lava crossed into PGV property overnight into Sunday and by Monday, Hawaii County Civil Defense confirmed, it had covered two wells, KS-5 and KS-6.
Officials say the flow on the property has since stopped, and there was no release of hydrogen sulfide gas during the event.
“We developed a strategy, which was to quench the well, plug the well, and remove topside equipment from the well so that it produces a low-profile to the oncoming lava, and we’ve accomplished that on all three production wells on pad E,” Thomas Travis, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator, and one of the people appointed by the governor to oversee the process of securing PGV, said on Sunday.
“All three of those wells have been plugged,” he added. “Two of those wells have been quenched. We had to do a different kind of plug on KS-14, but it is plugged and all of the wells, presenting minimum interference to the lava. They’re all close to the ground and covered, so the lava should go right over them.”
We’re told the valves on the top of the wells can easily withstand 2,000-degree lava.
“I think the piece of mind will come once the lava crosses over the well, and we can tell you guys that the well is fine, which is what we fully anticipate,” said Michael Kaleikini, PGV vice president of community affairs.
Kaleikini says there are at least 20 employees on site during the day and three to six employees at night.
Kaleikini also says the wells are designed in a way that they could be put back into operation if PGV decided to do so.
“The Puna Geothermal Venture site is stable. We believe that we have mitigated any risk to the community,” said Gov. David Ige. “We actually are working on mitigation events constantly. There are several other sites, well heads, that are further away from the lava flow that we continue to make mitigation efforts on, but we do believe that those well heads that are closest to the lava flow that would be most at risk have been plugged and would not be a danger should the lava reach them.”
As for gases, there is a remote chance that some may come in contact with the lava, but officials say it’s highly remote, and they are extremely confident the wells are safe.
The flow into PGV was being fueled by fissure 21, which is no longer active. Nearby fissure 7 is also no longer active, after it prompted an evacuation warning that saw one resident evacuated by helicopter.