HILO, Hawaii – A witness called by an opponent of the Thirty Meter Telescope during the ongoing contested case hearing testified Thursday on oil leaks she says she documented on the site of the planned $1.5 billion observatory.
During the 2015 occupation of Mauna Kea, at the height of the tensions between those in favor of and against the TMT, Munroe captured images of the leaks beneath the construction machinery left dormant on the northern plateau.
Munroe was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Tucson, Arizona, her written direct testimony states. She moved to Hawaii in August 1976 to attend college at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She began following the TMT situation in 2013, towards the end of the first contested case hearing.
On approximately April 14, 2015 I joined other protectors of Mauna A Wakea at Hale S-14a Pohaku in anticipation of resumption of work for the Thirty Meter Telescope project. I stayed most nights on the Mauna until approximately June 28, 2015. I began to document activities on the Mauna with my cell phone and shared on social media almost daily. I began a routine of regular site visits with others on Monday mornings to the location of the TMT Access Road to monitor any activity for which we may have been unaware of during the previous week. As security guards were always on duty at the top of the TMT Access Road preventing access to walk on the portion of the road which appeared to have been already ripped & graded, we would hike beyond the construction zone delineated by stanchions & wire over difficult terrain of both a`a & pahoehoe types of lava in order to view the equipment which had remained there from the initial attempts to create the road. There were two excavators & two bulldozers on the new TMT Access Road, and I was able to photograph each of these pieces of machinery with evidence of some type of dark, apparently liquid substance leaking from each of them. In addition, there was a large truck with a trailer type of rig on the Mauna Kea road from which the TMT Access Road began which had 2 very large “oil leaks” nearby. It is unknown what type of liquid was leaking from the equipment, whether it was some type of motor oil, transmission oil, or some other oil or fuel used in heavy machinery, I refer to them as “oil leaks”. There were no mitigation measures visible. The four machines on the TMT Access Road each had some type of absorbent pad, or pads, held down with loose rocks, which to me would be best described as looking like training pads for puppies, or incontinence pads used on beds for medical patients. On at least one bulldozer, the pad had been blown loose to the point that it was no longer effective in catching the oil, which then leaked onto the ground. One at least one bulldozer there were pads above the ‘tractor’ treads as well as below, indicating that the volume of leakage was more than what the upper pad could absorb, so an additional pad was required below. Under one of the excavators was some type of rectangular yellow tray which appeared to me to be similar to what may be used to drain oil into from an automobile during a regular oil change but on a larger scale.
At a BLNR hearing on the TMT in Honolulu on June 12, 2015 I was informed by way of a Facebook message that my photographs had been shown, and the members of the BLNR were very interested in them. A new reporter from television station KHON was at the hearing and requested more photographs, which I provided to them, which were then aired that evening on their news station in a story about the machinery leaking oil.
During a subsequent visit to the TMT Access Road I discovered that the 2 large oil spills on the Mauna Kea road on which the tractor-trailer rig was parked had been disturbed in a manner that appeared that somebody had kicked rocks & dirt over them and attempted to scrape the darker soil away, or perhaps scatter it. No other mitigation measures were seen.
During a discussion with my cousin here on the island I was advised about “Best Management Practices” which require drip-control measures to be used by her employer, J. W. Glover, during work on Highway 11 near Hakalau. I visited this location and took photographs and discussed the procedures with Glover employees at the site. Any equipment not in use must be parked on 2 different types of materials layered on top of each other to prevent any viscous fluids from being allowed to be leaked into the environment. This is NOT being used at Mauna A Wakea, which results in fluids being allowed to drip onto & into the soil.
I have provided copies of the photographs which show machinery with leaks on the Mauna Kea Road, to Cindy Freitas, a petitioner to the Contested Case Hearing regarding the application for a Conservation District Use Application.