Lava Threatens Israeli Company's Power Station in Hawaii

Man hit by flying molten rock hospitalized

Kilauea volcano, on Hawaii's Big Island, has been erupting pretty much continuously for the past 35 years.

"Right now, they're in a safe state", Mike Kaleikini, senior director of Hawaii affairs for the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, said of the wells.

Kilauea's eruption, which has already produced almost two dozen lava-spewing fissures, entered a more violent phase at the weekend, producing larger volumes of molten rock from fissures.

The Puna power plant supplies 25 percent of the island's electricity, the daily business website Calcalist reported.

The building was owned by the state of Hawaii.

"The Puna Geothermal Venture had always been contentious on the island, the Associated Press reported, with some native Hawaiians saying that it desecrated Kilauea, where the goddess of fire, Pele, is said to live".

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A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 190,000 litres of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. Some lava, however, menaced a geothermal plant.

At least 44 homes and other structures have been destroyed in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens area of the Puna district, and a man was seriously injured on Saturday when a plate-sized chunk of molten shot out of a fissure and struck him on the leg. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat's worldwide generating capacity.

The latest explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at around 1 a.m. (6 a.m. EST) sent a plume of ash over Hawaii's Big Island, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported in a statement.

These were new risks geologists warned of on Tuesday as Kilauea's 19-day eruption showed no sign of easing, with repeated explosions at its summit and fountains of lava up to 160 feet from giant cracks or fissures on its flank. The observatory said in a release that the volcano's fissures were actively expelling lava during the period in which the time-lapse footage was shot. Lava flowing from the volcano recently reached the ocean, causing a unsafe lava-haze phenomena known as ' laze' that sends acid- and glass-laced steam shooting into the air, creating yet another hazard for those downwind of the lava's ocean entry point.

But first of all, the Kilauea eruption began to pick up steam a few days ago, creating a new hazard of "toxic steam" as the red-hot rock interacts with the Pacific Ocean; and secondly, the lava changed direction.

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