Published : Friday, July 12, 2019 | 5:12 AM
Pasadena’s TMT International Observatory said construction of its long-in-the-works Thirty-Meter Telescope Project on Mauna Kea in Hawaii will begin July 15.
The consortium said the State of Hawaii had issued a formal Notice to Proceed for the project, the Pasadena-based TMT International Observatory announced on Wednesday.
“The day for construction to begin has arrived,” said Hawaii’s Governor David Ige (D). “At this time our number one priority is everyone’s safety. As construction begins, I continue to be committed to engaging with people holding all perspectives on this issue and to making meaningful changes that further contribute to the co-existence of culture and science on Mauna Kea.”
The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issued the Notice to Proceed following a decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court last October finally allowing issuance of the construction permit. construction.
The court also ordered the closure of five of the 13 telescopes already on the site as well as the restoration of the ground they occupy to a natural state.
“We have learned much over the last 10-plus years on the unique importance of Mauna Kea to all, and we remain committed to being good stewards on the mountain and inclusive of the Hawaiian community,” said Henry Yang, TIO Board of Governors chairman.”
After a project office of the $1 billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was established in Pasadena in 2004, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation pledged $200 million for the TMT project in 2007, and Mauna Kea in Hawaii was selected as the project site.
Construction began in 2014 but protests by environmental groups and native Hawaiians disrupted activity on the project. A Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that the construction permit was invalid temporarily halted construction, and TIO officials started looking at a site in the Canary Islands as an alternative.
TMT will be constructed on University of Hawaii-managed lands on Mauna Kea.
As a non-profit organization, the TIO’s members include Caltech in Pasadena, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and
Technology of India, and the National Research Council in Canada.