Construction on Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea to resume Wednesday, officials say

Posted: Jun 20, 2015 7:00 PM HST   Updated: Jun 20, 2015 7:33 PM HST   By Ian Scheuring

Screen Shot 2015 06 17 At 10.52.23 PmHONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Construction on the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project will resume on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the TMT International Observatory Board on Saturday.

“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," said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board. "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."

Construction work on the $1.4 billion dollar project, which was scheduled to begin in March, was effectively halted when protestors began blocking heavy construction vehicles, and later construction workers, from accessing Mauna Kea's 13,796-foot summit. The protests grew in numbers, and though they remained non-violent, at least 31 protestors were eventually arrested.

The arrests helped spur similar anti-telescope demonstrations from across the globe, many of which were captured and shared on social media with the help of outspoken celebrity supporters like Jason Momoa.

In April, in response to the demonstrations, the Thirty Meter Telescope team informed Governor David Ige that construction would be postponed until telescope board members, state officials and Native Hawaiian activists had an opportunity to discuss the issue. Late last month, Governor Ige announced that he had given his official support to the project.
Despite the protests and months-long timeout, Yang says construction on the project is able to restart thanks to the support of Hawaii residents.
“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," Yang said. "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. "

Work crews first intend on inspecting the telescope site and equipment, much of which has been there since protests began in March, before installing a fence around the designated construction zone. 

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