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Hawaii County police talking with Thirty Meter Telescope representatives, protesters

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HILO, Hawaii — Hawaii County police have been trying to resolve a conflict on Mauna Kea, where protesters against the construction of a massive telescope have blocked the road to the summit.

The telescope should help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe. Astronomers say Mauna Kea is the ideal location for observing the most distant and difficult to understand mysteries of the universe. Its primary mirror promises to be 100 feet, or 30 meters, in diameter, made up of 492 smaller mirrors

But some oppose construction because they say the mountain summit is held as sacred by Native Hawaiians. Protests disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony last year.

Police are working with Thirty Meter Telescope representatives as well as protest leaders to find a peaceful resolution, said Assistant Police Chief Henry Tavares.

"Our reaction will depend on their actions," he said, referring to protesters, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/1BNv5q8 ) newspaper in Hilo reported Wednesday. "They have been informed that they can protest but not violate the law."

Dozens of telescope opponents blocked Mauna Kea Access Road to prevent workers from reaching the construction site near the top of the mountain.

Visitors and employees of other telescopes were allowed through.

Authorities with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii County police were present but made no attempts to clear the road. About 15 vehicles turned around that afternoon after waiting nearly the whole day at the roadblock.

A department spokeswoman said the agency was following the county's lead on the matter.


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

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