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Courts allow toxic matrial testing


By Craig Jungwirth

A Massachusetts Appeals Court decided last week to allow Arthur D. Little Inc.'s Levins Laboratory Complex for Safe Handling of Toxic Materials in Cambridge to continue testing nerve gases and blistering agents.

Melvin H. Chalfen, commissioner of health and hospitals for Cambridge, has asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn the Court of Appeals' ruling.

The court will also be asked to decide the legality of the city's regulation prohibiting Little from testing, transporting and stocking five chemical warfare agents at its Acorn Park facility.

State Supreme Court Judge Paul Liacos is expected to announce by Friday whether or not the full Massachusetts Supreme Court will review the case during its April session.

Cambridge's ban on testing has been both blocked and upheld by several Massachusetts courts over the past year.

Scott Lewis, Chalfen's lawyer, told the court that testing and storing chemicals at Levins Laboratory could pose a serious threat to the health of Cambridge residents.

Richard T. Murphy, Jr., Little's vice president and general counsel, said in an interview with The Boston Globe that the company stores less than 10 milliliters of the substances. The company is testing the agents under a US Department of Defense contract.