East Hawaii News

TMT Construction to Resume Wednesday

June 20, 2015, 8:12 PM HST
* Updated June 20, 8:13 PM
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Construction will resume Wednesday at the Thirty Meter Telescope site atop Mauna Kea. The announcement by TMT International Observatory Board Chair Henry Yang came Saturday night, two and a half months after Governor David Ige initially ordered a one-week halt in construction on April 7. Following Governor Ige’s decision, TMT officials voluntarily extended the construction delay.

In a written statement, Yang explained the TMT board’s reasoning to resume construction:

“After more than two months of consultation, education, and dialogue with many stakeholders, we humbly announce that the TMT International Observatory Board has decided to move ahead to restart the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the morning of Wednesday, June 24. Our period of inactivity has made us a better organization in the long run. We are now comfortable that we can be better stewards and better neighbors during our temporary and limited use of this precious land, which will allow us to explore the heavens and broaden the boundaries of science in the interest of humanity.

“We look forward to a positive relationship with all Hawaiians, while we understand that the majority of Hawaii’s people are supporting the TMT project. We deeply respect and are mindful of those who have concerns, and yet, we hope they will permit us to proceed with this important task while reserving their right to peaceful protest.

“As done at any construction site, we plan to first investigate and assess any possible oil leakage and ensure we can provide proper maintenance of machines and equipment so they operate safely and correctly – in order to protect Maunakea and preserve the sensitive environment. We will then begin to repair and install fencing in the interest of public safety.

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“As we proceed, TMT is open and willing to allow cultural practitioners in the area of the construction site to continue customary and traditional practices. Allowing this practice to continue to occur will require further dialogue and mutual agreement to work out the details in order to establish a cooperative and harmonious environment for all parties.

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“In an effort to be sensitive to and observant of the Native Hawaiian host culture, we will deepen our knowledge of the cultural, ecological, and spiritual aspects of the mountain and continue to learn how to better respect and appreciate Maunakea’s important cultural areas.

“On behalf of TMT, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the people in Hawaii for their understanding and support.”

Governor Ige proposed changes in the stewardship of Mauna Kea on May 26, to which the University of Hawai’i responded with a plan to meet those goals.

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