(BIVN) – The removal of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory from the summit of Maunakea, and the restoration of the site, is is expected to be completed during 2023.
A news release was issued on Thursday, providing an update on the decommissioning process, which is expected to cost more than $4 million.
“Delays in preparatory steps and contracting brought the physical deconstruction close to winter when weather conditions impeded work at the summit,” said Caltech physics professor and CSO Director Sunil Golwala.
“Removal of the telescope, physical deconstruction of the building housing the telescope, and restoration of the site are now anticipated to begin when summit weather conditions allow in spring, 2023,” said Golwala.
Caltech has retained AECOM/SWCA as the Invasive Species Monitor, both on-site and for vehicles. ASM Affiliates will serve as the Archeological Monitor, and TayMade Productions LLC will be the Cultural Monitor. “All monitors required by the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) are under contract now,” said Golwala.
According to the Caltech update, the following decommissioning steps have been completed:
- A perimeter fence was constructed by IslandWide Fencing at the site in September to delineate the construction zone. This fence allows the public to view site activity without safety risk.
- Kona Transportation has removed the bulk of Caltech’s property inside the observatory, packing it for shipment to Chile (where the telescope is being relocated) or transporting to a local scrapyard for reuse, recycling, or disposal.
- The telescope remains in the dome, along with a handful of large pieces of equipment and optics.
- Unitek removed loose lead-based paint and mold-contaminated surfaces in September. Lehua Environmental Inc. provided environmental air monitoring and inspection services during the lead paint removal and mold remediation activities to ensure full containment of these materials. The work was done in accord with the Site Decommissioning Plan (SDP).
- Oasis Environmental and EnviroServices & Training Center inventoried and removed hazardous materials/waste from the observatory in August and October.
- Isemoto Contracting has been hired to provide crane services at the summit for telescope removal.
- Caltech has been in close contact with Hawai’i Department of Transportation, Hawai‘i County Police Department, and County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works on road permitting requirements for the transport of the telescope to Kawaihae Harbor. Okahara and Associates has been brought on to prepare Traffic Control Plans and to assist with permit applications. The transportation plan includes a test run. Due to public notice requirements and allowing for unpredictable weather conditions at the summit, the removal process, including the dummy run, will take place over 3-4 weeks in the spring.
Caltech will finalize traffic control plans before the spring, and says it will obtain permits to move the telescope. Caltech says the public will be informed of planned road closures and restrictions. Project officials say they anticipate five individual night-time closures and two individual short day-time closures.
“Once weather conditions are suitable, the crane and other equipment needed for removal of telescope will be mobilized and the removal will commence,” the Caltech news release states. “Once the telescope is removed, the project will be turned over to Goodfellow Bros., the general contractor, who will handle the dismantling of the buildings that housed the CSO telescope, and the full restoration of the site. M3 will provide deconstruction administration services, while AECOM will provide the independent decommissioning construction monitor (IDCM).”