The deconstruction phase of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) on University of Hawaiʻi-managed lands on the summit of Maunakea is on track to begin before summer ends and be completed by the end of the year.
Caltech announced on August 2, 2022, that it received the final required permits from the State of Hawaiʻi and the County of Hawaiʻi to begin the removal of the facility and site restoration.
The decommissioning work will be in accordance with the conservation district use permit (CDUP) approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, according to Caltech. The CDUP for CSO sets the terms and conditions required for decommissioning. Copies of the CDUP, the Final Environmental Assessment, Site Decommissioning Plan, and other planning documents are available on the Caltech’s website.
As part of the process, CSO has completed an archeological assessment, a cultural setting analysis, a hydrogeological evaluation, a biological inventory, a biological setting analysis, a traffic analysis and an asbestos/lead paint/mold survey, as required by the UH Decommissioning Subplan.
In addition, the UH Hilo Hōkū Keʻa Observatory is currently finalizing its permit application to begin its deconstruction portion of the decommissioning project that is tentatively scheduled to be completed in late 2023. Both facilities are following the detailed processes outlined in the Decommissioning subplan (PDF) of the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan.
“The steady progress of these first two decommissioning observatory projects reflects the university’s commitment to reduce the astronomy footprint on Maunakea,” said Greg Chun, executive director of the UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship. “It is a credit to everyone who participated in the development of the decommissioning subplan that has guided this complex process that makes stewardship of the mauna the foremost priority.”
The Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, created by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. David Ige in July is scheduled to assume all management responsibilities of Maunakea from the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources by 2028. UH currently holds the general lease to the summit land and though the university stopped its efforts to renew the lease when the new entity was created, the university remains committed to complete the two decommissioning projects, and place the UH Hilo teaching telescope at the Halepōhaku mid-level facility on the mauna.