By Office of District 4 County Councilman Greggor Ilagan
At approximately 4 p.m. on March 13, Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), tripped off line and experienced a steam release. The steam was released through the plant’s Emergency Steam Release System, which abates hydrogen sulfide emissions.
Council Member Greggor Ilagan of District 4, went directly from Hilo’s County Council Meeting to the PGV site in Puna Wednesday afternoon. Council Member Ilagan discussed the plant’s steam release with staff of PGV, which included Operation Manager, William E. Wiebe, and Plant Manager Cliff Townsend.
“Everyone worked together quickly and effectively. PGV’s safety mechanisms were put into action immediately, the public was notified, and the appropriate authorities took action. I feel it’s better to be overly cautious than unprepared” said Council Member Ilagan.
PGV staff monitored the facility and surrounding area throughout the late afternoon and into the evening. The Fire Department’s personnel also assisted in these efforts. “Everything went well…precautionary procedures were implemented early on. The community did a great job. Those that were concerned chose to leave and seek information,” said Darryl Oliveira, Director of Civil Defense.
The Pahoa Community Center, with direction from the Department of Parks and Recreation, opened their doors for those who preferred to remain outside of the area. According to Ken Nagasawa, Director of the Pahoa Community Center, “just one” couple arrived in the evening after the center had been notified to “stand down,” at approximately 6:45 p.m.
The Hawaiian Electric Light Company (HELCO), released a statement at 6:45 p.m. on March 13, which explained that power to 20,095 customers in the Waikoloa, Waika, Kailua, Kaloko, Captain Cook, Kuakini, Waiakea Uka and lower Puna, which included the PGV plant, was interrupted when HELCO’s transmission line tripped open. The PGV plant tripped off line following HELCO’s power interruption. HELCO continues to investigate the exact cause of the event.
“I’d like to thank Civil Defense, Fire Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, and staff of the Pahoa Community Center for their swift execution of contingency plans.” Council Member Ilagan continued, “To the residents of Puna and Hawai’i County, thank you for maintaining calm with Aloha, during this event.”
Council Member Greggor Ilagan of District 4, is available at 965-2712, or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.