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BOSTON �� The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court’s decision to invalidate a state environmental approval for a controversial proposal for a bioterrorism research center. The decision marked the first time the state’s supreme court has found a certification by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs “arbitrary and capricious,” said Douglas Wilkins of Cambridge, Mass.-based Anderson & Kreiger, who represented 10 Boston residents who oppose putting the lab in the densely populated South End neighborhood of Boston. Wilkins also said the case is the only time the court has reached the merits of a Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act case. “As of now, I would say it’s dead in the water,” Wilkins said. “They need to go through the environmental process again and file a supplemental environmental report addressing the issues the courts have identified.” Boston University and the Boston Medical Center Corp. have teamed up to develop the proposed center, by forming University Associates Limited Partnership. The proposed center would include the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, a high-security center that would study diseases and toxins like the Ebola virus, smallpox, anthrax, and botulism. The final environmental impact report was “arbitrary and capricious” because it didn’t comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, wrote Associate Justice Francis X. Spina. “University Associates failed to consider alternative locations for the Biolab � as directed by the Secretary {of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs],” wrote Spina. Spina remanded the case back to Superior Court. John Stevens, an attorney at Boston’s Foley Hoag who represents University Associates, the Trustees of Boston University and Boston Medical Center referred calls to the Boston University Medical Campus. “The biosafety lab and the research it conducts will save and not endanger lives,” Ellen Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Boston University Medical Campus and Boston Medical Center. “We are confident that the additional environmental impact study will satisfy the court.” The residents also sued the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management for prematurely transferring state land to University Associates without a final environmental impact report. Saul A. Schapiro of Boston’s Rosenberg & Schapiro, who represented the Boston Redevelopment Authority, did not return a call for comment.

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