Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), operator of the geothermal plant in lower Puna on Hawai’i island, plans to start drilling a new well as early as January 2015.
The existing five wells have mysteriously dropped in electricity generation from 38 to 30 megawatts. The last well PGV drilled two years ago, at great expense to the sleep and health of neighbors, has never come online as it failed to find sufficient heat. In the past few years, the plant has released potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide on multiple occasions, with ongoing refusal by PGV or civil defense to put proper monitoring equipment and systems into place to protect nearby residents.
Yet PGV wants to drill a new well, and is trotting out obfuscations, vague promises, and lies familiar to anyone who’s been following the fight over the years. PGV has promised effective noise mitigation measures for decades, but never delivered.
The community fought hard to pass a county noise ordinance two years ago to ban 24 hours a day of disruptive and health-damaging drilling. PGV claims the ordinance doesn’t apply to it, and that it is dangerous to stop drilling once it has begun. Yet when the community suggested it shouldn’t start drilling if it can’t guarantee safe shut-down in emergencies such as hurricanes, power outages, or lava flows, PGV claimed those situations are totally safe. (One of the dangerous gas releases occurred recently during Hurricane Iselle – and PGV was just operating the plant, not trying to drill a new well.)
The geothermal exploitation is also a direct violation of the religion of traditional Hawaiian Pele practitioners, who oppose drilling into and stealing energy from the goddess.
Nonviolent civil disobedience was suggested at the Punaweb Forum to block any new drilling until PGV agrees to abide by the noise ordinance. Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i fully supports such an action. PGV, and corporations in general, have proven themselves indifferent to community concerns, responsive only to force (nonviolent or violent). It is insufficient, as nearby resident Paul Kuykendall put it, to “[hope] that PGV will honor not only the county law but also the impact to the community and not drill at night.”
We will report if plans unfold for direct action, so comment here if you’re interested, and subscribe to email updates in the sidebar to the right.