Construction is set to resume Wednesday on a controversial telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.
In a statement posted on the Thirty Meter Telescope’s website Saturday, chairman Henry Yang said:
“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.”
But an opposition organization, Sacred Mauna Kea Hui, responded with its own statement:
“SMKH reaffirms strongly, proudly and with all aloha our commitment to reinforce the blockade and continue to pursue legal routes while being forced to protect the Mauna with our bodies.”
Demonstrators sit and rest on the TMT site after praying and singing as part of their protest.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The opponents added:
“SMKH strongly feels that many laws have been circumvented that make UH, DLNR, the State of Hawaii and the TMT project disparagingly liable for breach of law and legal processes and with the Supreme Court case confirmed that it would be illegal, immoral and unethical for the TMT project and its supporters to disallow the full and entire process of law to run its course regardless of the Governor’s relinquishing of responsibility in giving the OK for the TMT project to move forward.”
Yang said TMT would address any possible oil leakage from the construction, repair and install fencing “in the interest of public safety” and allow cultural practitioners into the area.
Yang also said, “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.”
Last month, Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced his support for building the TMT, saying the project has the right to proceed. University of Hawaii President David Lassner and UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney said they were prepared to move quickly to implement changes to management of the mountain.
Protests against the planned observatory on Mauna Kea, which is considered a sacred mountain by many Native Hawaiians, halted construction in April after dozens of people were arrested blocking construction vehicles to the site.
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