Officials monitoring Puna Geothermal Energy Plant after overnight steam release


Civil defense officials are monitoring the Puna Geothermal Energy Plant following an incident that prompter firefighter response Monday morning.

They say at 2:30 a.m., there was a release of steam at the plant, not an explosion.

“There was another release due a high-pressure situation, where one of the wells, and the emergency release steam facility actually released some steam as a result of the high pressure that was built within the system,” Hawaii County Fire Department’s Chief Gerald Kosaki said.

Puna Geothermal says the situation was contained and secured and that there is no threat to the public and no evacuation is necessary.

Monday morning’s release follows one last week that caused an alarm to trip. In that incident, fire officials said monitors showed the discharge was well below levels considered dangerous.

“There was a buildup of steam or pressure in the pipe, which one of the pipes had ruptured causing a release of steam, and because of that, they had to do some repairs, which took a little while,” Kosaki said describing last week’s incident.

He adds that in both incidents, there was no threat to public safety and this does not occur frequently, despite the two back-to-back incidents.

“Other than the incident on Thursday, and this past Monday, we haven’t had any recent incidents over the past few months,” Kosaki explained “But I know prior to that, maybe a year ago, so we had responded a few times to the facility, but many times it was a report of sulfur-type smell, which there was no active incident occurring.”

The fire chief says Puna Geothermal officials are now in the process of investigating what happened.

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