Heavy equipment arrives to clear land for giant telescope on Hawaii's Big Island

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HILO, Hawaii — Five tractor-trailers delivered heavy equipment as plans progress for a giant telescope on Hawaii's Big Island.

The equipment was delivered early Tuesday morning to the top of the island's tallest mountain, the 13,796-foot Mauna Kea, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (http://is.gd/C7sSc5).

The equipment will be used to clear land for the Thirty Meter Telescope, but it wasn't immediately clear when that work will begin.

Heavy snowfall delayed delivery early this month so work could begin on the $1.4 billion project, the largest observatory to be built on the mountain.

The observatory is expected to be operational by 2024, the same year a 39-meter telescope is expected to be completed in Chile.

Sandra Dawson, a spokeswoman for the California-based Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory, said its partners were excited to see the project move forward after a seven-year public agency review. The observatory is supported by researchers from the U.S., Canada, India, China and Japan.

Some Native Hawaiian groups oppose the telescope because they consider the island's tallest peak sacred.

Protesters disrupted a groundbreaking ceremony in October. About 20 protesters were on hand Tuesday, but there were no disruptions, said Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for University of Hawaii, which leases the summit.

Dawson said the observatory has all regulatory approvals needed to move forward with construction


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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