Professor of Physics Edmund A.C. Cruouch, a member of the city's scientific advisory board which helped prepare a report detailing the plant's potential hazards, said yesterday that "I don't realy have any feelings on the ruling."
The report concluded that the probability was very low, but that in the worst case, when the maximum amount of lethal chemical substance was present and employees exercised utter negligence in the treatment of the material, as many as 40 people in the vicinity of the plant could be killed.
Cambridge officials used the worst-case scenario, which Crouch said yesterday was very unlikely, in their analysis of the laboratory and in the decision to issue the restriction.
"The reason to applaud this is that it simply supports the idea that the public has some right to influence what goes on around them," Crouch said. But the risk assessment specialist said he believed the threat was minimal.
One of the five justices on the Mass court agreed that the actual risk was not great. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Neil L. Lynch wrote that the ban itself was not based on substantial evidence. "It is unmistakably clear that the [Cambridge] commissioner's action is not supported by substantial evidence," wrote Lynch, adding that the ban was issued even before any studies of the plant had been completed.
In addition, he questioned the study conducted by Cambridge. "They do not consider ADL's committment to use significantly smaller amounts of the chemicals than the studies hypothesized Thus, the studies are virtually useless in assessing even the worst case accident scenarios."