HONOLULU – Hundreds of protesters on a Hawaii mountain road erupted in cheers Wednesday after construction crews turned around and retreated from the site for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes.
The work on the thirty-meter telescope has been halted for months after large groups blocked the access to the mountaintop in April.
Protesters oppose the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope because it will be built on land held sacred by many Native Hawaiians.
Protestors ahead of the caravan pulled big rocks onto the access road and bad weather rolled in, forcing police and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) officers to turn around after the nearly seven-hour-long demonstration.
“Just as all the current observatories respect the protestors’ right to peacefully demonstrate on the mountain, we hope that they will respect our desire to continue the work that contributes to Hawaii being the home of the most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth”, said a statement from the observatory.
“We want to acknowledge and reach out to those who disagree with our project”. Kahookahi Kanuha, one of these arrested stated in an interview. “It is considered the temple of the most supreme being for Hawaiian people”, said Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, one of the groups protesting the telescope.
As said by an Associated Press report, approximately 20 people have camped outside the construction site of the TMT. “And the dry and cold air on Mauna Kea will produce the sharpest images yet of the parts of the universe we’ve only glimpsed”, the news source explained.
Thirteen other large telescopes occupy Mauna Kea. In March 2015, the telescope project began near the peak of the Mauna Kea on the Big Island.
She says she’s glad construction didn’t take place Wednesday on Mauna Kea, but protesters will continue camping on the mountain to prevent workers from returning.
A multinational group of astronomers behind the project thinks Mauna Kea’s 14,000-foot summit is the perfect spot for a telescope – far away from any light pollution or cloud interference. Though the protesters have refused to budge from their stand, the construction of the TMT was to resume on Wednesday.
Their protests prompted Gov. David Ige to say Hawaii must do a better job of caring for the mountain.
The nonprofit Thirty Meter Telescope worldwide Observatory LLC will build and operate The telescope.
The partners in building this non profit telescope are India, China, Canada, Japan and the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corporation, which was formed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology.
Partners would receive a share of observing time, along with University of Hawaii scientists.
“I will try my best not to get arrested”, Kanuha said.
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