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Oil leak detected from Hawaii astronomical observatory

HONOLULU – Officials of a Large Island astronomical observatory say an oil leak was discovered in the hydraulic system and the support of one of the telescopes.

The officials of the W. M. Keck Observatory, to the knowledge of the state Department of public Health of the leakage of the Keck I telescope on Monday, although it was first discovered on 19 April, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The observatory was slow to launch a full investigation, Hilton Lewis, the observatory, the director, said in a statement.

“We are now giving this research the attention required as the highest priority for the observatory,” said Lewis.

He added that he regrets the delay and takes full responsibility.

The Keck I telescope of the hydraulic system has a total capacity of 550 gallons (2,082 liters of oil and is finished off with fresh oil if needed, said Richard Matsuda, the observatory is the head of operations.

It is unclear how much oil has leaked, but officials have no obvious dripping or pouring, and to say that the leak appears to be small.

Technicians also inspected the Keck I’s twin telescope Keck II, and found no oil seeps on the Keck II pier wall.

The Keck Observatory is situated near the summit of Mauna Kea.

It was damaged in the great earthquake of 6.9 on the Big Island on May 4, the day after the Kilauea volcano began its latest East Rift Zone eruption.

The earthquake knocked the Keck I mechanical bearing system inoperative for four days. The system keeps the telescope centered as it rotates.

The Keck II was not damaged by the earthquake.

It is unknown if the earthquake has strengthened the oil leak.

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Information: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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