Lava Viewing Area Will be Suspended Indefinitely
The Pahoa Lava Viewing Area is scheduled to close indefinitely on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 4:30 p.m., the County of Hawai’i Department of Parks and Recreation announced Tuesday. The Parks and Recreation division took over the management of the viewing area from Hawai’i County Civil Defense earlier this month.
Members of the public have been allowed access to the Pahoa Transfer Station since Dec. 17, while the transfer station was no longer operable due to the June 27 lava flow running through the surrounding areas and into portions of the station. The free viewing site provided views of fresh crested-over lava.
Closure of the transfer station will occur so that the facility can begin to be converted back to its original use as a public trash collection site, according to officials.
Oliveira confirmed with reporters on Monday that the targeted completion date and reopening of the transfer station as a waste facility is March 1.
The Pahoa Transfer Station was initially closed to the public as a waste facility on Oct. 24, as the impending lava continued to get closer to Apa’a Street. Officials with the Hawai’i County Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division relocated the facility to a temporary site above the Pahoa Community Center.
Upon the initial opening of the facility as a viewing site, school-aged students who were displaced from their home schools were allowed first access during excursions that consisted of videos and explanations from geologists, University of Hawai’i at Hilo students, and other agencies.
In addition to the indefinite closure of the viewing area, the facility is closed today, Jan. 27 and will be closed on Thursday, Jan. 29 so that students from surrounding schools that were missed on the initial excursion would get the opportunity to partake in the educational experience.
Oliveira said on Monday that there are hopes of opening a new public lava viewing area in the future, however, difficulties in location have caused a delay.
The Pahoa Transfer Station is on county property, allowing the county access to the use of the station as a educational site. Oliveira said that much of the surrounding land is private property or state owned land, creating extra steps in providing a new viewing area for the public.
BigIslandNow.com will continue to keep readers up to date as plans materialize for a new site.