Environement

Environment

We are committed to a new model of sustainable astronomy; one that respects the unique environment of Maunakea. With a new design that leaves zero waste on the mountain and a strategic approach to minimize any potential environmental impact, TMT will be the most environmentally sensitive telescope ever built on Maunakea. Visible from just 14% of the island, the TMT site was selected because it poses no risk to rare or endangered plants, insects or animals. And in a first for any telescope on the mountain, TMT is paying a $1 million per year lease, $800,000 of which will go directly to the support and stewardship of Maunakea.

TMT will follow a Comprehensive Management Plan to protect and conserve Maunakea’s cultural and natural resources during both on-going operations and construction to prevent any detrimental impacts. In addition, we will have cultural, archaeological, and construction monitors on-site at all times.

Protecting Indigenous Species – An Invasive Species Control Program will educate employees about the status, condition, diversity and protection given to the natural resources on the mountain, including the Wekiu bug habitat.

Minimizing Energy Use – The project’s facilities will incorporate solar hot water systems, solar panels, energy-saving power and communication devices and will conduct an annual audit designed to further reduce energy use.

Protecting the Water Supply – Comprehensive research by expert, independent hydrologists confirms that TMT will have no adverse impact on the water resources and hydrology of Maunakea. The top of Maunakea is an “alpine desert” with very little rain. Any wastewater from TMT will be collected and transported down the mountain.

Eliminating Waste – No waste from TMT will be left on the mountain.   In addition, we will recycle and reuse solid and non-hazardous water materials as much as possible.

Ensuring Safe Operations – Multiple safety measures will reduce the potential for accidental spills of hazardous materials, including leak detection systems, daily inspections of equipment that handles hazardous materials and a detailed Spill Prevention and Response Plan.

Reducing Visibility – TMT is not sited at the top of Maunakea, but on a lava plain below the summit, specifically chosen to minimize its environmental impact. A special reflective aluminum-like coating reflects the sky and reduces the visibility of the structure. It is only vaguely visible from 14% of Hawaii Island, or where 15% of the population lives.

Maunakea and TMT: Get the Facts

Protecting the Environment Ocean Sunset

Read the full Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Office of Mauna Kea Management’s page here:
Final Environmental Impact Statement Volume 1 * Final Environmental Impact Statement Volume 2 Final Environmental Impact Statement Volume 3 **

* The executive summary of the Final Environment Impact Statement can be found on pages 13-31
** Management summary of the Cultural Impact Statement can be found on pages 25-41

Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) Final Decision:
BLNR Final Decision

* for specific information about the site, see page 59, item 329
** for specific information about the TMT’s size, see page 71, item 386
***for specific information about TMT’s impact on the aquifer, see page 75, items 406-410

Third Court Final Decision:
Third Court Final Decision