MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after work was halted on the Thirty Meter Telescope, protesters are still on the road to the Mauna Kea Summit, and the normal operations of the existing observatories on the mountain are affected.
"We can operate remotely," said Doug Simons of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, in an interview with HawaiiNewsNow. "But operations on the mountain require cryogenic cooling. We ordinarily have people working on the mountain. Most of the telescopes on the mountain need people on hand to operate. If this keeps up it will cause a backlog of scheduled experiments."
Thirty Meter Telescope construction was suspended after rocks were placed on the road by demonstrators and two ahu were built in the road. Workers later removed the loose rocks, but left the ahu until cultural specialists could be consulted on what to do with them and how to do it.
Midday on Friday, officials announced that the two ahu would be coming down. Officials said while vehicles have been able to pass around them, they do obstruct one lane of traffic in two different locations along the road and pose a significant safety hazard at night. A group of protesters, who call themselves Aloha Aina advocates, agreed to move the ahu and rebuild them somewhere else.