MATEP Heats Up

COGENERATION

Mission Hill residents have spent the last month showering state offices with petitions and documents asking for further public discussion on the possible risks of putting Harvard's Medical Area Total Energy Plant (MATEP) into operation.

This week the groups began more active demonstrations, occupying the offices of the state Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (DEQE) Wednesday, rallying in front of the offices Thursday, and marching yesterday outside the Boston office of George Putnam, treasurer of the University.

The residents object to the nitrous oxides and carcinogenic particles they say MATEP's diesel engines would emit if they are installed. The engines are necessary to make the $175 million plant, which would provide energy to 13 medical area institutions, cost-and energy-efficient.

Controversy has followed MATEP plans through several hearings and court decisions in the past four years. Last month the staff of the DEQE finally approved a compromise plan for the plant, and recommended David A. Fierra, deputy commissioner of DEQE, give the go-ahead to installing the diesels.

Fierra said this week he will decide within the next two weeks.

"We feel that the decision-making process as it's going on now is not being subject to public scrutiny," Mtchell Hilton, president of the Mission Hill Planning Commission, said yesterday, adding that hearings thus far have not publicly examined new evidence on carcinogenous emissions.

"There are enough doubts that certainly warrant a delay in the approval. It was a closed-door decision; the DEQE in effect struck a deal with Harvard," he said.

Willard R. Pope '63, general counsel to DEQE, said yesterday, "I think we have been following a fair procedure and our actions are based on the evidence that was developed in those hearings and not something that was done secretly as they seem to think."

Charlotte Ploss, a Mission Hill resident, said yesterday she objects to being exposed to any possible dangfers from the plant. "I'm prepared to go to any lengths--what's happening is not just an inconvenience," she added.

Ploss said ten residents picketed outside Putnam's office yesterday, not to harass him, but to impress upon him the seriousness of their cause.

A small group of Mission Hill residents wanted to meet with Putnam Thursday, but he was not in the office. "We're sure that once he's given all the facts he will support us," Ploss said.