(BIVN) – The observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea are shutting down, and taking their personnel off the mountain, as the standoff over the planned Thirty Meter Telescope continues.
At the end of day two of the scheduled start of TMT construction, a convoy of vehicles brought the personnel down the mountain. Dr. Jessica Dempsey, the Deputy Director of the East Asian Observatory, offered to share the news of the decision with reporters on the Mauna Kea Access Road.
Later, this joint media release was issued by the Maunakea Observatories:
“This afternoon, the directors of the existing observatories on Maunakea made the joint decision to withdraw all personnel from their telescope facilities at the summit to guarantee the safety of their staff – the institutions’ top priority. Without guaranteed reliable access to the telescopes, the Maunakea Observatories will suspend all summit activities. We anticipate returning to normal operations as soon as the situation allows.
The safety of everyone on the mountain, MKO staff, law enforcement and protesters is of paramount importance to us. This is not a decision we came to lightly, but want to emphasize the importance of safety for our staffs and the facilities.
We are truly grateful to the law enforcement agencies who have been working around the clock to ensure the safety of everyone on Maunakea. The safety of our personnel – and of everyone on the mountain – remains our top priority.”