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Mazzone, Judge A. David : Chamber Papers on the Boston Harbor Clean Up Case, 1985-2005


24 record cartons, 4 document cases


U.S. Federal District Judge A. David Mazzone (District- MA) donated his papers pertaining to the Boston Harbor Cleanup Case to the University of Massachusetts Boston on May 16, 2001. In August, 2003 additional materials were acquired from Judge Mazzone in the form of videotapes.

In October, 2003, additional materials in the form of a DVD set and a CD-Rom were acquired from Mary Lydon, Librarian & Records Manager, at the MWRA Record Center at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

In February, 2004, additional compliance reports (Numbers 183-188) were acquired from Judge Mazzone.

In 2005, supplementary materials (videotaped interviews and transcripts of those interviews, conducted by Jenni Matz), were added to the collection.


Judge A. David Mazzone was a senior US District Judge in Massachusetts.
Born: June 3, 1928 in Everett, MA
Died: October 25, 2004 in Boston, MA.
Presided over this case: 1985 - 2004 (this case still open at time of processing)
Education: B.A Harvard Univ., 1950. JD De Paul Univ., 1957.
Career Note:
     1961-65, Asst. District Attorney, Middelsex County, Massachusetts.
     1965, Asst. U.S. Attorney, Massachusetts.
     1965-75, Partner, Moulton, Looney and Mazzone, Boston
     1975-78, Associate Justice, Superior Court, Boston
     1978- 2004, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, Boston, Mass.


Case No: Civil Action 85-0489-MA: United States of America (Plaintiff) Vs. Metropolitan District Commission, et al (Defendants)
Civil Action 83-1614-MA : Conservation Law Foundation of New England, Inc., (Plaintiff) Vs. Metropolitan District Commission, et al (Defendants)

The Boston Harbor Cleanup Case was a landmark case for Massachusetts. The initial order and subsequent timetable of U.S. Federal District Judge A. David Mazzone set into play one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken in New England at a total cost of over $3.8 billion. It resulted in the construction of a new primary wastewater treatment center at Deer Island ("the Boston Harbor Treatment Plant"), facilities at Fore River Shipyard in Quincy to process sewage sludge, a tunnel from Nut Island to Deer Island, and a 9.5 mile outfall tunnel to discharge treated effluent offshore in Massachusetts Bay. These four major construction projects were designed to deal with the problem of untreated sewage water which had been dumped into Boston Harbor for decades. The case was originally filed in three separate lawsuits.

The town of Quincy filed a suit against the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), an authority created by the Mass. legislature in 1893, and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, on December 17, 1982, on the grounds that the beaches and waters of Boston Harbor were polluted, by the illegal dumping of an estimated 3.5 billion gallons of pollutants in that year alone. The suit was heard by Judge Paul G. Garrity of the Massachusetts Superior Court. A timetable for the Boston cleanup was attempted. The next year, it was determined that the MDC alone would be liable for the cleanup.

On June 7, 1983, the Conservation Law Fund (CLF) filed a suit against the MDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for massive discharge of untreated sewage into Boston Harbor. The CLF blamed the MDC, with acquiescence from the EPA, for violating the 1972 Clean Water Act of Congress. The EPA claimed that the MDC should be the sole defendant in this case.

The EPA, under new Regional Administrator Michael Deland, also filed its own suit, as a plaintiff, against the MDC for failure to comply with the Clean Water Act.

On March 7, 1984, Judge Mazzone stayed proceedings for the CLF case, due to the existence of the Quincy case already pending in the Mass. Superior Court. Mazzone deferred to Judge Garrity who was still ruling on the Quincy case, and who issued an ultimatum in December 1984 warning the Legislature that he would enter a clean-up order unless lawmakers devised a concrete plan to clean the polluted harbor.

In April of 1984, then Governor Michael Dukakis (Mass.) proposed a bill in the Mass. legislature which would form a new, autonomous water and sewage authority in Mass. This authority, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) would assume responsibility for the MDC's sewage department, and thereby also assume liability as the defendant in the legal case. When MDC Commissioner William Geary conceded that the MDC did not have the financial or personnel backing appropriate to clean up the Harbor, the Mass. legistlature passed the bill creating the MWRA in December 1984. Increased sewage rates would be paid by the forty-three member communities in Mass. to help offset the cost of the cleanup.

On January 31, 1985, the United States filed a separate suit at the request of the Administrator of the EPA against the MDC, MWRA, and the Commonwealth of Massachussetts, and the Boston Water and Sewage Comission seeking to make the cleanup a non-voluntary court-ordered mandate.

On May 22,1985, U.S. District Judge Mazzone denied a further stay in the CLF case, and denied a motion to stay the EPA case, consolidating the two cases, and taking it out of the state’s jurisdiction. His reasons were that the state had not effectively been able to adhere to the voluntary cleanup schedule and the cessation of sludge dumping into the harbor. He effectively combined all three lawsuits by agreeing to hear the CLF and EPA’s cases against the MDC, and allowed the Town of Quincy (and later the Town of Winthrop) leave to “interfere” in this new case as a plaintiff. This decision cleared up procedural and legal obstacles that for months had halted any progress to be made on the cleanup of the harbor.

In July 1985, the MWRA assumed the sewage tasks of the MDC, and by September 1985, the MWRA was named in the lawsuit as the sole liable party, as successor to the MDC.

In December 1985, Judge Mazzone set forth his ruling as to the first Schedule for the cleanup, which was to be adhered to by the MWRA. By May 1986, this Schedule One was amended to include a plan to complete a new primary treatment plant by 1995, and a secondary plant by 1999. The location of these sites was still to be determined, and would cause much legal wrangling and public dissent. Deadlines were pushed for technical and legal reasons. The cleanup was expected to take eleven years, but would go on for at more than twenty, costing over $3.8 billion. In that time sewage stopped being dumped into the harbor, two brand-new primary and secondary treatment plants went online, a 9.5 mile outfall tunnel was completed, all contributing to making Boston Harbor cleaner. Still, this project was one of the largest public works projects to come in on time, and under budget.

In October, 2004, Judge Mazzone passed away. On September 9, 2004 he had the case transferred to Judge Richard G. Stearns, who now presides.

This case is still not closed, with work by the MWRA still ongoing at the time this collection was processed.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of three series.

1) The first series consists of the chamber papers of Judge Mazzone spanning the course of his court orders dealing with this case. These include just one series, which is broken down month by month, from December, 1985 to December, 2000, and then Quarterly Reports from January 2001, to October, 2003. The folders correspond to the monthly/quarterly compliance orders written by the Judge. Judge Mazzone ordered this case to have specific deadlines and project milestones which the parties were required to report on once a month. This is a record of those reports. There are a total of 188 orders that were filed at the time the collection was received.

The monthly reports include (almost invariably) the MWRA's compliance report, the report of the appointed Compliance Monitor (Anne O. Phillips), the response of the party representing the U.S (if any), and the Judge's Order on these reports and the progress of the cleanup efforts. There are copies of docketed court papers as well as drafts, and related materials. The Order of the Judge was generally the first document in the folder, and the rest of the materials were arranged in reverse-chronological order. For the purpose of consistency, all items have been re-foldered in chronological order. The judge's opinion includes a summary of facts stated in all the filed reports, and thus offers a succinct history of that particular's month's progress and setbacks. Each report chronicles the obstacles that were faced, including logistical, financial, environmental, and technical problems for each month.

Additionally, there are sporadic reports from outside experts and consultants, bids from various contractors, detailed plans from contractors, and reports from environmental and engineering parties involved over the course of the case. These are generally included in the MWRA reports as "Exhibits". There are letters to and from the Judge (mostly dealing with concern over site selection, or political/environmental implications for various construction projects), drawings, photographs, graphic schematics, news clippings, and submissions from private citizens and citizen watch groups.

Notably, some documents found here deal with the problems concerning the relocation of the Deer Island Correctional Facility, the safety of the harbor whales and wildlife, the location of the dumping site near the township of Winthrop, the relocation of the correctional facility on Deer Island, US Senate bills relating to this case, the taxpayer response to increasing sewage bills, the construction of the 9.5 Mile outfall pipe, the problem of Combined Sewage Overflow, and the safety and swimmability of the beaches in South Boston.

Originally there were 188 folders corresponding to 188 court orders. These have been re-foldered into 320 new folders each of which preserves the number of that compliance order. Additional orders were later added, and the orders chronicle the scope of Mazzone's jurisdiction on the case from 1985-2004, totaling 193 orders.

2) The second series of this collection consists of audio-visual materials.

There is a DVD compilation, produced by the MWRA in a two-volume set, "Classic Video Images of the Boston Harbor Project 1989-2002". There is a CD-Rom, "MWRA Best of Boston Harbor Project Images" consisting of over a hundred photo stills taken from among the 30,000 slides at the MWRA Record Center that were part of the scheduled compliance orders. Highlights include the "Boston Harbor Project Videos", three of which were produced by the MWRA to explain the history and purpose of the Boston Harbor Project (BHP).

Additionally, there are approximately 150 videotapes in this collection. These are on varying formats of ? (U-matic) videotape, BetaSP video, and VHS video.

These tapes range greatly in content, quality, and style. There are educational videos, explaining how water travels from the rain to the sewer. There are highly technical narratives, explaining details of CSO or of operating procedures. There are a few tapes geared toward workers, rehearsing emergency procedures. There are public service announcements put out by the MWRA to attract investors, showing how valuable a commodity the project will be. There are public meetings, showing the point of view of the ratepayers and various protesters. There are numerous newscasts, covering the press attention to the project from the 1980s onward. And there are the "Quarterlies" -project management contract requirements which capture various stages of construction. The earliest footage seems to be from 1986. Not all of it is dated.

In all, there were three "Boston Harbor Project" videos that sample the bulk of the footage and edit it into scripted, narrated segments. The final tape (#3) even features a short clip of Judge Mazzone. This tape explains again the history of the project from the troubled days of the MDC through the foreseeable completion of the project. The BHP videos are also on the DVD set.

Among the highlights on the videos:

  • Footage of Deer Island before construction began (1988).
  • News footage chronicling the various protests to the BHP over the years, the environmental & political groups opposed to it.
  • News coverage over issues (length of tunnel, location of treatment plants, CSO, technical problems, political backlash).
  • Important figures such as Paul Levy, Peter Shelley, Doug MacDonald, Richard Fox, and Judge Mazzone on-camera.
  • Footage of the right whale and the harbor seals again in the harbor.
  • People swimming again in the harbor in the 1990s.
  • Footage of the groundbreaking events (first shovel of dirt thrown).
  • President Bush's anti-Dukakis, anti-harbor political commercial which many say swayed the presidential election.
  • Graphic elements showing the planning of such a huge construction project in maps and animatics.
  • On-camera narration by engineers and advisors who explain first-hand what their jobs on the project are and how they do them.
  • Visual progress from the beginning of the project (1988) through the completion of the secondary treatment plants.
  • Song produced about the BHP "Clean Up Boston Harbor!/ Love that Dirty Water!"

3) The third series of this collection consists of supplementary materials.

This series includes material created by the Archivist in the course of organizing the collection and material created providing supplementary information. The material includes oral history, videotaped interviews with Judge Mazzone and others involved in the case.

Additional records for this case:

The complete case files will be found at the National Archives in Waltham, MA once the case is closed. Until then, they are located at the U.S. Federal District Courthouse in Boston.


Series Description Note:

Series 1: Paper Documentation
       The paper documents are arranged chronologically by month.
There were 193 original folders, in16 record cartons. There are now 318 folders, in 24 record cartons and four document cases. The original integrity of each folder has been maintained, but re-arranged in chronological order. Each folder varies in its volume and content.

Contents most generally include:

  1. The MWRA Monthly Compliance Report
     a. Items on the schedule set forth by the court that were not completed.
     b. Items on the schedule that were completed.
     c. Additional information may include some of the following;
       i. Bids from contractors
       ii. Reports from private experts
       iii. Findings of researchers, engineers, committees, the Board of Directors, consultants.
       iv. Requests for extensions or delays in the schedule and reasons for this.
       v. Reports, books, binders from independent parties with detailed graphic descriptions of the project.
       vi. Budget reports
  2. Responses, if any, from the other parties in the Case.
  3. The Report of the Compliance Monitor, Anne Phillips
     a. Items on the Schedule not completed and her explanation
     b. Items on the Schedule that were completed and her explanation
     c. A listing of the parties (with addresses) who received the report
  4. Judge Mazzone’s monthly Order
     a. Opinion on the reports received
     b. Recommendations or Orders of the court based on these findings
     c. Occasional handwritten notes or drafts.

Series II: Audio-Visual materials
       The videos came in nine cases, which came with their own packing lists. They are not in consecutive order. The tapes had been divided into groupings and these original groupings are intact. There are a total of 106 tapes of varying formats and lengths, spanning the years 1986-2001, in thirteen new boxes.

The groupings are;
   NP 1-14 Non- MWRA Project Videos. These videos vary in quality and subject matter from a short about radial steam engines to a home video shot by a construction worker.

   OA- 1-51 Off-Air Dubs. These were taped by various vendors (VMS, Playback, or home-recordings) who recorded on-air broadcasts from news sources (such as WBZ-TV in Boston) that aired news stories dealing in some way with the BHP.

   PV 1-103 Project Videos. These are videos produced primarily by Regina Villa Associates for MWRA detailing various elements of construction, such as the explosions, interim sludge processing, MWRA bond commercials, press releases, et cetera from 1986- 2002.

   QU 1-48 Quartlerlies. These quarterly updated trace the visual history of various stages of the project from 1989-2000. They were four shot each year by MWRA as part of the documented evidence of this case.
Some are narrated by Resident Engineers.

Series III: Supplementary Materials
   In August, 2004 the Project Archivist, Jenni Matz, conducted and videotaped an interview with Judge A. David Mazzone at length about his recollections about this case.

   In October, 2004, Judge A. David Mazzone passed away. Following his death, his colleagues on the case were approached by the Archivist to participate in a series of interviews about his role in the Boston Harbor Cleanup, which were then edited into a film shown at an Urban Harbors Institute Symposium (May 23, 2005).

   The full transcripts, and digital videos of these interviews were added to this collection in Spring, 2005.

   The Interviews are available on VHS format for viewing, by appointment.

   The Transcripts are available for reading in the Archive and by appointment.

Videotaped Interviews:

  • Judge A. David Mazzone, on August 24, 2004.
  • Paul Levy, Former Executive Director, MWRA on February 17, 2005.
  • William Golden, Former City Solicitor for Quincy and Former State Senator, on February 18, 2005.
  • John DeVillars, Former Secretary of Environmental Affairs and Former Administrator, EPA Region 1, on February 24, 2005.
  • Douglas Foy, Former President, Conservation Law Foundation, on February 24, 2005.
  • Michael Dukakis, Former State Governor, on March 15, 2005.
  • Beth Nicholson, Chairperson, Save the Harbor Save the Bay, on May 9, 2005.
  • Vivien Li, Executive Director, Boston Harbor Association on May 9, 2005.
  • Michael Deland, Former Administrator, EPA Region 1, on May 11, 2005.