AP NEWS

Possible relocation of volcano observatory raises concerns

April 6, 2019

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Some have voiced concerns about the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory potentially moving off of the Big Island to Oahu.

The Observatory confirmed last week that Oahu is one option under consideration for a new home since the headquarters inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains badly damaged from Kilauea volcanic crater collapses, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported on Friday.

Other options include a new site within the park or on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said Thursday that the observatory needs to stay on the island to help with the response to any lava activity.

Federal officials first mentioned the potential move last year as Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone eruption was nearing its end, Magno said.

Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb said she can’t comment on the likelihood of a move because discussions are ongoing in Washington, D.C. The observatory falls under the U.S. Geological Survey, which is part of the U.S. Department of Interior.

“We have no update but will let you know if/when we do,” U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Paul Laustsen said in an email Wednesday to the Tribune-Herald.

Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Interior discussed a potential move to Oahu as a preferred option since there are existing federal facilities, according to Magno.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has been located at the Kilauea caldera rim for more than a century. Its existence predates the establishment of the national park.

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

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