Observatory Crew Denied Access By Activists To Mauna Kea

Jul 23, 2019

Technicians bound for the Gemini Observatory were stopped by activists from entering Mauna Kea Access Road Tuesday morning, according to Maunakea Observatories, which represents the telescopes currently on the mountain.

The observatories officials say that the crew was headed to do about three hours of technical work to protect delicate instruments used in astronomical observations, instruments that are now vulnerable because of instability in the cooling system.

According to a statement released by Andy Adamson of Gemini Observatories, the car of technicians was waved through an initial gate and the driver stopped to talk with an official from the Office of Maunakea Management.

At that point, "a kupuna approached the car, stating that access was not to be allowed. Five additional activists then moved to stand in front of the car. The denial of access was contrary to the understanding of access approval by the Gemini crew members and the individual who had initially opened the gate."

The technicians pulled off the road and waited for about 45 minutes to await access, then turned around.  

Adamson said: "The Maunakea Observatories continue to support the efforts of state and county law enforcement to restore safe and reliable access to the access road."