Caltech Submillimeter Observatory Decommissioning

Beginning observations in 1985 of the submillimeter wavelengths of space, The Caltech Submillimeter (CSO) ceased operations in 2015 in preparation for its removal atop the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii.  Sitting within a conservation district, the decommissioning of the CSO required extensive environmental assessment for vacating the site and understanding its removal impacts on existing archaeological, cultural, and biological conditions.  The decommissioning effort includes full removal of all structures above and below ground as well as final grading and habitat restoration to restore the site to pre-development conditions.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) is being decommissioned as part of a broader effort to restore and preserve the natural and cultural resources of Maunakea. Maunakea holds significant cultural importance to Native Hawaiians and is an environmentally sensitive location. The decision to decommission the CSO aligns with the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan’s goals, which aim to reduce the overall footprint of astronomical facilities on the mountain and promote land stewardship.

M3 collaborated closely with Caltech and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive decommissioning plan that ensures a safe, efficient, and environmentally sound process. We successfully navigated the intricate regulatory landscape to comply with all relevant environmental, special use, and building regulations. This effort safeguards the natural beauty of the Maunakea site and reflects our commitment to environmental protection, and required building strong relationships with local authorities, community groups, utilities, and contractors, ensuring smooth communication and cooperation throughout the project.

During construction, M3 plays a crucial role in administering the deconstruction process, ensuring it proceeded according to plan with all stakeholders involved. Our oversight was essential in aligning the efforts of various parties and mitigating potential issues, ensuring the decommissioning was carried out smoothly and efficiently.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory decommissioning project showcases M3 Engineering & Technology Corp.’s capability to handle complex engineering projects with precision and care. Our involvement underscores our commitment to sustainable and responsible engineering practices.