(CN) – Turning a residential street into a freeway polluted the surrounding environment, violating the human rights of a family living in an adjacent building, the European Court of Human Rights ruled.
Natalya Grimkovskaya filed the complaint with the Strasbourg-based tribunal in 2003. She lived with her parents and son beside an expressway in Ukraine since 1998, when local authorities routed it to run past them. In 2002, the street was closed to all traffic but reopened, without repairs, in 2010.
Grimkovskaya claimed her residential street in Krasnodon was unsuitable for the volume of traffic routed there, as it lacked proper surfacing and drainage. She said the vibration, noise and pollution from traffic on the M04 Kyiv-Lugansk-Izvarine motorway made her home unlivable.
Traffic also allegedly pulverized mining waste that filled potholes on the street into toxic airborne dust.
Authorities did nothing after the family, which suffered from chronic bronchitis, complained.
The human rights court ruled that the cumulative effect of the noise, vibration and pollution negatively affected the Grimkovskaya family, in violation of the right to protection of family life.
On principle, national governments “could not be held responsible for merely allowing heavy traffic to pass through populated residential town areas,” the court said.
It also noted that the Ukrainian government never conducted an environmental feasibility study or mitigation, and that national courts failed to address the family’s arguments.
The European Court of Human Rights ordered the Ukraine, which is a member to the binding treaty underlying the court’s authority, to pay Grimkovskaya about $14,000 in damages.