Controversial Hawaii telescope costs increase to $2.4 billion

The project has been on hold for a number of years

James Crump
Wednesday 18 March 2020 18:29 GMT
The Thirty Metre telescope has proven controversial
The Thirty Metre telescope has proven controversial

The cost of building a controversial telescope in Hawaii has risen to $2.4 billion, according to a statement from Gordon Squires, TMT vice president.

The telescope is unpopular among Native Hawaiian communities because the plan is for the project to be built on Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea.

The mountain is seen as sacred land by some Native Hawaiian communities, which has stalled the building of the telescope and caused the cost to rise by over a billion dollars.

Mr Squires gave an update on the project last week, admitting that the cost is unlikely to be the final total.

"While an exact updated project cost will depend on when and where on-site construction begins for the Thirty Meter Telescope, the latest estimate for the TMT project is in the range of $2.4 billion in 2020 dollars," he said in a statement this week.

Mr Squires explained that the substantial increase in cost was due to a myriad of factors.

"The increase of nearly one billion dollars is due to the delay in starting on-site construction in Hawaii, as well as inflation and world market cost increases for some construction items," he said.

He also admitted that the project site might change, writing, "we will not know the true cost of the project until we finalize a construction site and do an analysis."

Hawaii is the preferred site to build the telescope, but an alternative location in the Canary Islands has been chosen in case it needs to move, according to the AP.

In July 2019, Hollywood actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson joined demonstrators protesting the building of the telescope on the mountain.

During that protest, demonstrators blocked a road for over 10 days in an attempt to prevent the construction of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea's summit.

Construction was scheduled to begin on Mauna Kea last July, but the successful protests prevented any work to take place.

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