(BIVN) – A possible move to Oʻahu for the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is “part of the mix of discussion”, scientist-in-charge Tina Neal said during a recent radio interview with Sherry Bracken.
Speaking during an episode of the Island Issues program, Neal confirmed what U.S. Senator from Hawaiʻi, Mazie Hirono, revealed during a recent senate committee hearing: there have been discussions on possibly relocating the USGS HVO operations to Oʻahu. Hirono told Interior Secretary Nominee David Bernhardt during questioning that the idea “doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.”
“I would want to have your commitment that you will listen to the Congressional delegation as well as local stakeholders to put this observatory where the eruptions will likely occur,” Hirono told the nominee.
“The U.S. Geological Survey is still in the process of working with the congressional delegation and all of our stakeholders to determine the best solution for HVO going forward,” Neal told Bracken a few days later. “We will focus on what is the best facility arrangement to allow us to continue our critical monitoring, our important science, and our relationships with emergency managers and the at-risk public. So, those discussions are definitely ongoing.”
The main headquarters for USGS HVO – adjoining the Jagger Museum by the summit of Kīlauea within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park – was badly damaged during the 2018 eruption. The scientists have since been scattered into temporary locations across East Hawaiʻi.
“There are federal facilities on Oʻahu that offer some potential advantages for some parts of our operation, but importantly our planning efforts and discussions are looking at multiple options,” Neal said.
“It’s part of the mix of discussion,” Neal added. “But really, no decisions have been made.”
In the meantime, Neal says “we’ve just signed a lease for the Iron Works building second floor, where we hope to move in a month or so and have almost all of the staff co-located in one place, which will be terrific.”
“Having us all together is really efficient from an operational sense,” Neal said.
Island Issues w/ Sherry Bracken is now aired at 6:30 a.m. Sunday mornings on KWXX (101.5 Kona, 94.7 Hilo) and at 7 a.m. on B93/B97 (93.1 Kona, 97.1 Hilo)