TMT chief testifies in contested hearing case

TMT chief testifies in contested hearing case

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - The chief of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project faced hours of questioning Monday during the state Board of Land and Natural Resources Conservation District Use Application contested case hearing in Hilo.

TMT International Observatory LLC hopes to start construction in April 2018 if a new permit is granted. Last year, the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated a permit granted by the BLNR.

Initial telescope operations could start in 2027, but the University of Hawaii's master lease is set to expire six years later. TIO and its partners would have to pay $15.6 million to decommission the telescope in 2033 if the lease isn't extended. They recently selected the Canary Islands as a backup location.

"Mauna Kea remains our preferred site, but we have a plan now to start construction on a mountain in April 2018 in order to give us some assurance that can happen, we now have a plan b that we're working to develop," said Edward Stone, TIO's executive director.

Hearing dates are scheduled through the end of January.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.