Some Big Island residents called on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration last night to put the Keck Outrigger Telescope Project in the Canary Islands off Africa instead of on Mauna Kea.
Others called for improved procedures on Mauna Kea, including former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Mililani Trask, who called for better procedures for hazardous materials.
They spoke at a public meeting held by NASA to take comment on a draft environmental impact statement on the Outrigger project. Comments will be considered in revising the draft into a final form by December, NASA officials said.
The Outrigger project consists of at least four and possibly six relatively small telescopes in 35-foot-high domes next to the two existing Keck telescopes in 111-foot-high domes. The Outriggers would be built in the parking area around the two Kecks.
The environmental study says they should be separated from each other by at least 245 feet, so that when light gathered by them is combined with light gathered by the two Kecks, the equivalent of a telescope mirror 245 feet in diameter will be created. Each Keck alone has a 33-foot mirror.
The environmental study says an alternative site for the Outriggers would be the Spanish-owned Canary Islands. The Canary site would allow 82 percent of the clarity on Mauna Kea.
That was good enough for several speakers. "Send it to the Canary Islands," said Moanikeala Akaka, a former OHA trustee.
Observatories now pay $1 per year. Akaka called such payments "sinful."
Kaliko Kanaele of the Royal Order of Kamehameha said every location in the summit area is sacred. Any more digging there would be "desecration."
Amateur astronomer Tom Peek noted the environmental study's statement that the proposed site in the Canary Islands is not considered sacred by people there. Hawaii would lose 35 temporary jobs and eight long-term ones, but Peek called that a small price.
Former OHA trustee Trask focused on more than 20 hazardous materials spills, such as mercury, that have taken place during the decades observatories have been on the mountain. The environmental study should discuss that more, and better plans are needed for spills, she said.
Cory Harden of the Sierra Club called for a new management board for Mauna Kea, "chosen by the community."
Info on Outrigger