East Hawaii News

TMT Shifts Eyes to Yet Another Potential Site

March 30, 2016, 2:33 PM HST
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An artist's rendering of TMT with its vents open. TMT photo.

An artist’s rendering of TMT with its vents open. TMT photo.

Could the Thirty Meter Telescope initially planned for the summit of Mauna Kea be erected in India?

That’s the latest in the speculation over the $1.4 billion telescope’s future location.

In February, TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said that the TMT International Observatory Board of Directors would be in search for alternate sites, should the project not be underway by its deadline of late this year or early next.

Over the weekend, Indian newspaper The Times of India reported that an international team is anticipated to visit Hanle, located in Ladakh, in “a couple of months.”

TMT officials have maintained to Big Island Now that the project hopes to push forward on the Big Island, however, the alternate sites are being sought as a backup.

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“TMT is looking at a number of sites, both those that were previously considered as well as some new ones,” TMT spokesperson Scott Ishikawa told Big Island Now last week. “The specific sites are not being disclosed at this time.”

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Last year, protestors who deemed themselves “protectors of the Mauna” held off crews from ascending Mauna Kea to begin work on the project several times, ultimately bringing a halt to the project in the courts and on the mountain.

In December, the Hawai’i Supreme Court invalidated TMT’s Conservation District Use Permit. The ruling came on the same day that a temporary stay on TMT’s permit was set to expire.

An Order of Remand filed in Third Circuit Court in February officially wiped out TMT’s permit and took it back to the Board of Land and Natural Resources so a contested case hearing could be conducted before the Board.

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Two weeks ago, TMT project Manager Gary Sanders visited an observatory site at La Palma in the Canary Islands. TMT posted photographs of Sanders, along with board members, on its Facebook page.

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