MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – Thirty Meter Telescope contested case hearing participants – both for and against the $1.4 billion observatory planned for Mauna Kea – have submitted their requests for an upcoming site visit to the mountain.
The Monday September 26th trip to Mauna Kea will be an important part of the hearing that is set to begin in October. Approved participants will meet at Hale Pohaku at 10:00 a.m. to caravan together to pre-designated Sites.
Hearing officer Riki May Amano discussed the site visit during a pre-hearing conference held August 12 in Hilo (video above). “There are no medical services up there,” Amano told the room of participants, in reference to health and safety concerns relating to the cold, high altitude environment. “I dont know about you but ever since I was really little… I don’t do real good up there.”
Since that time, the participants have submitted their requests.
The University of Hawaii designated the Batch Plant and proposed Thirty Meter Telescope site on the northern plateau. TMT representatives also want to visit the summit loop road near the Keck Observatory.
Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and the original contested case petitioners opposed to the observatory request an all encompassing view of the summit area, starting with a traditional route to the summit that “begins at Puhi Bay in Keaukaha and stops for Observances at the Naha Stone in Hilo, the ahu for Kupuna at the crossroad of Saddle Road and the road to the summit, Ms. Pisciotta’s family shrine at 11,000 feet” before arriving at the summit area.
The journey continues at the summit, with additional suggestions closer to sea level:
The view planes of Mauna Kea are enjoyed mauka to makai, as well as Makai to mauka. Thus it will be important to assess the visual impacts of the proposal from the mountain looking out, as well as from the lower elevations looking towards the mountain.
To understand the potential visual impacts of the proposed TMT from the mountain looking outwards, Petitioners recommend visiting Puu Poliahu, as well as the puu where the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the Subaru Telescope, and the Keck Telescopes are now located. These locations will provide important perspective on the size of the TMT, in addition to important views of the northern plateau of the mountain.
Equally important are the view planes of the mountain from the lower elevations on the north side of the island. The Petitioners recommend visiting two sites on the north side the Heiau at Puu Kohala near Kawaiahae and a stop along Puukapu Street, which is between Waimea and Honokaa.
From the Wailoa River State Park, near the Hilo airport, the famous story of Poliahu and Kukahauul is visible in Mauna Kea’s profile. It would be possible to see this important View plane while in route to or from the airport.
To accommodate the length of this site visit, Petitioners offer that perhaps two days be set aside for the site visit, one day on the mountain and one on the north side of the island.
Also, Pu’u Poliahu and Pu’u Lili‘noe, Lake Waiau and Pu’u Kanakaleonui.
The attorney for the petitioners, Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, is also proposing to use some visual aids on the northern plateau.
The TMT site should be taped out to separately demonstrate demarcate the footprints of 1) the anticipated construction area, 2) dome, and 3) any support structures. To help demonstrate the expected height of the TMT, Petitioners suggest UH/T MT tie helium balloons to the end of 187-foot long strings that are anchored to the ground at the middle of the anticipated dome location as well as helium balloons/poles at the four corners of the proposed observatory building site.
TMT, however, objects to the plan.
The recommendation that TIO mark the listed areas with colored tape is unreasonable and difficult. Assuming appropriate approvals are obtained, TIO may be willing to mark certain limited features at the location of the proposed observatory, but not to the extent nor using the methods suggested by Mr. Wurdeman.
Other participants have submitted thier requests, as well.
Billy Freitas is proposing to visit the four locations on the mountain he helped to build and that became emblamatic of the movement in opposition to TMT: Hale Ku Kia’i Mauna across the road from the Visitor Center at Hale Pohaku, and three stone alters; Ahu Kauakoko, Ahu O Ku Kia’i Mauna e Kahi, and Ahu O Ku Kia’i Mauna e Lua.
Harry Fergerstrom, another participant opposed to TMT, said he “has only one area that he may share on this date that is particularly connected to the TMT site.”
The location is very close to the entrance of the proposed TMT site. Mr. Fergerstrom is aware of many sacred sites on the summit that are used by different persons at various times.
Because of the sacredness of the summit, it would be a breach of trust to show those sites.
I am able to speak of the sacredness of the Northwestern plateau and it’s light connection that spans the island chain. I can speak of several burials at the site as well as speak on water caves (2).