Lava flow closes in on Hawaii power plant

Los Angeles (AFP) –


A slow-moving lava flow is starting to close in on a power plant near Kilauea volcano, which has authorities scrambling to keep it from becoming part of the drama.

Officials said there was no "immediate threat" to the Puna Geothermal Company (PGV) a 38-megawatt plant run by the state of Hawaii.

Still, "cracks near the Puna Geothermal Company are active and producing lava that slowly flows into the property, which destroyed the old Hawaii Geothermal Project in an area adjacent to the PGV," it said.

Authorities are closely monitoring the situation in this hot air turbine electrical plant.

As a precaution, flammable chemicals were removed from the plant and the wells were filled with cold water.

For now, there's a steam release.

Civil defense also indicated that the constant eruptions from crack number 22 continue to feed another dangerous lava channel that goes to the ocean.

When fiery lava hits water, it produces acid fumes, a phenomenon called "laze" -- a word in English formed from the terms "lava" and "haze".

It is a mixture of hydrochloric acid (HCl), steam and small particles of volcanic glass.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and one of five on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It erupted May 3, forcing the evacuation of 2,000 people from their homes located on the mountain.

Scientists believe volcanic activity may be a precursor to a major eruption, similar to one that occurred on the island in the mid-1920s.