Two coolant leaks in Mauna Kea telescope prompt internal investigation

EPA classifies ethylene glycol as a hazardous substance.
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 1:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two coolant leaks from the chilling system of the Mauna Kea telescope have prompted an investigation, the University of Hawaii said Saturday.

UH said the fluid consists of 70% water and 30% ethylene glycol, which is commonly used as an antifreeze in cooling systems.

EPA classifies ethylene glycol as a hazardous substance.

The entire closed coolant system is estimated to hold about 480 gallons. At this time, it’s unclear how much of the substance was released.

The university has contracted an independent laboratory to determine the exact mixture and precise amount of the leaked fluid.

The leaks were detected on Jan. 10 when telescope staff could not restart the system after it had been turned off in mid-December due to a winter storm.

The cause of the leak and its impacts remain under investigation.

The chilling system will remain off until the investigation is completed.

The university said the State Department of Health has been notified of the leaks.