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Public meeting on Hoku Keʻa telescope decommissioning Wednesday

HILO — The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will host a virtual public meeting on the Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the decommissioning of the Hoku Ke‘a telescope on Maunakea on Wednesday, Sept. 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The Hoku Ke‘a decommissioning DEA notice for accepting public comments (PDF) was posted on Sept. 9. To register for the virtual public meeting and/or to learn more about the process, visit the Hoku Ke‘a Decommissioning Project web page at https://hokukea.konveio.com.

The meeting will include a presentation and question and answer session with UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship Executive Director Greg Chun and officials with SSFM, the consulting company hired for the project planning and design. Those who participate are asked to provide comments by Oct. 8. The Environmental Notice provides links to submit comments and to view the official document.

A DEA is required under Hawai‘i’s environmental laws for proposed uses of state lands or funds and uses within the state conservation district. The Hoku Ke‘a decommissioning plan reviewed in the DEA includes the safe and proper removal of two buildings and supporting infrastructure, and restoration of the site to its original state, as much as possible.

After the DEA process is complete, the Department of Land and Natural Resources will process and issue a conservation district use permit for the proposed actions. The project is tentatively scheduled to be completed by late 2023, and the site will not be used for astronomy purposes again.

Hoku Ke‘a is one of two Maunakea telescopes in the process of being decommissioned. The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) posted its Draft Environmental Assessment for decommissioning on September 8. The CSO decommissioning project is tentatively scheduled to be completed in late 2023. There are 13 observatories on Maunakea, including Hoku Ke‘a and CSO. UH has committed to no more than nine operating astronomy facilities on Maunakea summit by December 31, 2033.
Source: The Garden Island

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