East Hawaii News

Lava Viewing Area Will be Suspended Indefinitely

January 27, 2015, 1:37 PM HST
* Updated January 27, 1:48 PM
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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.

On Jan. 8, Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira announced the closure during a media briefing.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Pahoa Transfer Station was closed to the public on Oct. 24 as lava threatened the area. Photo credit: Jamilia Epping.

This photo, taken on Jan. 9, shows the Pahoa Transfer Station, which was closed to the public on Oct. 24 as lava threatened the area. File photo.

Vehicles line Apa'a Street as members of the public park and walk to the Pahoa Transfer station viewing area. Photo credit: Jamilia Epping.

Vehicles line Apa’a Street on Jan. 9 as members of the public park and walk to the Pahoa Transfer station viewing area. File photo.

Members of the public view lava from one of the Pahoa Transfer Station's many view points. Photo credit: Jamilia Epping.

Members of the public view lava from one of the Pahoa Transfer Station’s many viewpoints on Jan. 9. File photo.

This picture shows an overview of lava filling up the driveway area of the Pahoa Transfer Station on Nov. 13. File photo.

This picture shows an overview of lava filling up the driveway area of the Pahoa Transfer Station on Nov. 13. File photo.

The public will have access beginning Wednesday, Dec. 17 to the Pahoa Transfer Station viewing area, where views of the recent June 27 lava flow, like pictured, can be seen. Photo credit: Jamilia Epping

This photo, taken on Dec. 8, shows how the June 27 lava flow impacted the fence surrounding the Pahoa Transfer Station.  File photo.

Students gather around a presentation during Monday's student tour of the Pahoa Transfer Station. DOE photo.

Students gather around a presentation during a Dec. 8 student tour of the Pahoa Transfer Station. File photo.

This photo taken on 11/17/14 shows the once active lava flow near the Pahoa Transfer Station. File photo.

This photo, taken on Nov. 17, shows the once active lava flow near the Pahoa Transfer Station. File photo.

Just before noon on Tuesday, Nov. 11 lava pushed through the fence at the southwest corner of the Pāhoa transfer station and moved down the slope onto the station grounds. HVO photo.

Just before noon on Tuesday, Nov. 11 lava pushed through the fence at the southwest corner of the Pāhoa transfer station and moved down the slope onto the station grounds. File photo.

This photo, taken Nov. 13, shows the flow entering the Pahoa transfer station. There are no active toes of lava in the image, but the lava is still hot enough to burn the asphalt beneath, creating visible white smoke. HVO photo.

This photo, taken Nov. 13, shows the flow entering the Pahoa transfer station. File photo.

This Nov. 11 photo shows  the breakout near the transfer station and how it has inflated up to the level of the Pāhoa transfer station fence. A glowing crack provides evidence of the flow's molten interior. HVO photo.

This Nov. 11 photo shows the breakout near the transfer station and how it inflated up to the level of the Pāhoa transfer station fence. File photo.

Members of the public venture from the Pahoa Transfer station structure and take a look at the impacted road. Photo credit: Jamilia Epping.

Members of the public venture from the Pahoa Transfer station structure and take a look at the impacted road on Jan. 9. File photo.

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