Lawyers for Harvard's Medical Area power plant triumphed in three court actions this week, but construction of the plant is still blocked, and a coalition of 5000 Boston-area residents opposed to the project say they plan further protests and lawsuits to ensure that the $110-million plant is never built.
Judge Roger Donahue of Suffolk Superior Court dismissed a suit brought by the selectmen of Brookline, who had charged that the University should have obtained a "certificate of need" before beginning to build the Medical Area energy project.
Although Massachusetts law requires health care institutions to demonstrate a clear need for any new facility costing more than $100,000, the State Department of Public Health ruled in the summer of 1975 that the power plant did not require such a certificate.
In another decision, Donahue this week denied a request by the town of Brookline and the Brookline Citizens To Protect the Environment for a preliminary injunction to stop construction at the site in the Mission Hill district of Boston.
In their suit, they charged that Harvard has continued to build the diesel electric-generating portion of the plant in violation of the January decision of a state environmental agency. Although Donahue refused the injunction request, he did not dismiss the groups' case, which will be heard in Superior Court at a later date.
The January decision of the environmental agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (DEQE), permitted Harvard to continue building the steam and chilled water portions of the plant, but disap- proved the installation of diesel generators because of the allegedly dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide which the diesels would discharge.
Harvard has appealed the DEQE decision within the agency and initiated a back-up court appeal that University officials say they will pursue only if the agency does not reverse its decision.
In a surprising third legal action, Robert W. Meserve, the Harvard power plant attorney, yesterday requested a temporary restraining order against the appointment of Assistant State Atty. Gen. Charles Corkin, Jr., as the hearing officer for the appeal within the DEQE.
Donahue granted the restraining order yesterday, but it will remain in effect only ten days unless the University initiates further legal action.
L. Edward Lashman, director of external projects, said yesterday Harvard will seek to prevent Corkin from being the appeal hearing officer, who recommends a decision to the DEQE commissioner, allegedly because "he is biased against because he is allegedly "biased against Harvard's lawyers, although he is probably objective as far as the substance of the case is concerned."
Meserve, a former president of the American Bar Association, said yesterday he believes his correspondence with Corkin shows Corkin is biased against him personally.
Willard R. Pope, the legal counsel to the DEQE, acknowledged yesterday that one of Corkin's letters to Meserve had been "rude," but said he thinks Corkin is impartial.
Corkin said yesterday he does not understand why Harvard does not want him to serve as the officer for the appeal. "I am absolutely unbiased towards Mr. Meserve. I have only respect for him," he said.
The coalition of Boston-area residents opposed to the power plant project will hold a meeting Monday night to discuss strategy and possible new action in light of this week's court decisions