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Lightning strike at geothermal well causes small release of hydrogen sulfide gas

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A lightning strike at a geothermal well in Pahoa today temporarily shut down operations and caused a miniscule release of hydrogen sulfide, Hawaii island firefighters said.

A resident in the Lani Puna subdivision reported the smell of hydrogen sulfide — a poisonous, flammable gas that smells like rotten eggs — about 1:35 p.m., firefighters said. The subdivision is west of Puna Geothermal Venture, a power plant that creates energy by tapping volcanic heat.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and found a power plant representative taking air readings of 62 parts per billion of hydrogen sulfide. Firefighters took their own readings and recorded less than 0 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide, well below the evacuation level of 10 parts per million, firefighters said.

A spokesperson for the power plant told firefighters that a lightning strike caused the shut down at the power plant and a small release of hydrogen sulfide, firefighters said. Power was restored and the plant’s operations were returned to normal.

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