The nonprofit company building the Thirty Meter Telescope sent a crew to the mountain Wednesday, intending to restart construction after a two-month pause.
Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope began in March near the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii after seven years of environmental studies, public hearings and court proceedings. More than 700 people gathered to stand in what they say is protection of a sacred Native Hawaiian space. I don’t mean a physical battle. “It’s brain against brain”.
The protesters have to also face tough conditions as the weather is quite chilly for Hawaii’s average. Some have stated they already have bail money ready.
Air and light pollution are minimal, skies are clear some 300 days a year and Hawaii is close to the equator, meaning a wide arc of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres is visible from the ground. Scientists say that such a powerful telescope ideally located on Mauna Kea’s summit will allow astronomers to see “forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time,” according to the TMT website.
The thirty Meter Telescope is a massive 18 story project.
But protesters, after successfully turning back the construction crews on Wednesday, said they were not going away.
“Sorry, just got out of jail”, Kahookahi Kanuha, one of the protest leaders, said in a text message to The Associated Press.
Some of them spent Monday building an ahu, a rock altar, in the road leading to the construction site, he said, adding that he expects the workers to simply move it or destroy it.
A state report in 2013 said little consideration was given to how these facilities might affect traditional culture because “the significance wasn’t understood at the time”. Gov. David Ige called a “timeout” the following week to facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders who have an interest in the sacredness of Mauna Kea to Native Hawaiians and its importance in scientific research and discovery. “So the assumption is that this mountain belongs to foreign scientists”, Kanuha said. Its partners include India, China, Canada, Japan and the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corp., formed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology.
The road up the mountain remained closed Thursday, a day after the University of Hawaii, which is responsible for Mauna Kea stewardship, closed it for safety reasons.
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