Maunakea Telescope Teardown Meeting Set

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(BIVN) – Virtual public meetings on the first two installations of the Maunakea telescope to be withdrawn as part of the 2010 decommissioning plan of the Maunakea observatories are expected to take place this month.

Separate virtual meetings are scheduled for the removal of Caltech’s submillimeter observatory, as well as the University of Hawaii’s Hōkū Ke’a telescope.

The Hōkū Ke’a meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 22, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A draft environmental assessment (DEA) for the decommissioning of Hōkū Keʻa has already been published. From the University of Hawaii:

The meeting will include a presentation and a question-and-answer session with the executive director of the UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship, Greg Chun, and officials from SSFM, the consulting firm hired to plan and design the project. Participants are asked to provide comments by October 8, 2021. The environmental notice provides links to submit comments and view the official document.

An AED is required under Hawaii’s environmental laws for proposed uses of state land or funds and uses within the state conservation district. The Hōkū Keʻa decommissioning plan reviewed in the DEA includes the safe and proper removal of two buildings and supporting infrastructure, and the restoration of the site to its original condition, to the extent possible.

Once the DEA process is complete, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will process and issue a Conservation District use permit for the proposed actions. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, and the site will no longer be used for astronomical purposes.

Later this month, three more virtual community meetings will be held on the proposed decommissioning at Caltech’s Submillimeter Observatory, or CSO.

The California Institute of Technology has released its environmental assessment (DEA) project on the CSO’s removal from the Maunakea summit area, which could begin by summer 2022.

The four options considered in the CSO DEA are:

  • Complete removal / complete restoration (Caltech’s preferred alternative);
  • No action (an alternative that is recommended to be evaluated);
  • Complete withdrawal / moderate restoration; and
  • Partial withdrawal / moderate restoration.

“The public is invited to attend community meetings, which will be virtual due to lingering concerns over COVID-19,” a press release read. “At meetings, the proposed decommissioning will be described in detail and questions answered informally. Each meeting will present the same information ”, and are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday September 28 at 11:30 am;
  • Wednesday September 29, at 4:30 p.m .; and
  • Thursday September 30 at 6:00 p.m.

On the day of the meetings, a link to join will be posted on cso.caltech.edu.

The 30-day public comment period on the CSO DEA is currently underway. The deadline for comments is October 8, 2021.


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