“Lviv residents are not ready to defend their right to a safe environment,” an expert says

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"Lviv residents are not ready to defend their right to a safe environment," an expert says

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

On January 25, environmentalists and human rights activists at the Lviv Press Club proposed mechanisms to protect their rights to a safe environment. The event was attended by representatives of environmental and human rights organizations. Odors have become the norm for many residents of Ukraine.

Mariupol, Odesa, Zaporizhia, and Lviv are examples of cities whose residents have faced the problem of odors. However, most are unaware of the dangers of polluted air. The common stench can include headaches, liver, stomach, pancreatic dysfunction, and other health problems.

Vasyl Romaniuk, a coordinator of the project “Promoting Change through UPR Mechanisms,” said that numerous environmental problems are evidenced by reports from environmental organizations, monitoring groups, and alternative reports within the framework of international human rights mechanisms. In particular, the latest such report was used by UN Human Rights Radio during Ukraine’s second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in late 2012. The UPR is a procedure in which each country must report to the UN on how it respects its rights and freedoms – and receive an evaluation of its work. Ukraine was provided recommendations from UN member states to improve the environmental situation. It will be known on March 14, 2013, how our country will cope with them in the future. It is no secret that many enterprises in Lviv and throughout Ukraine are not equipped with proper treatment facilities. According to Marta Korchemliuk, a representative of the all-Ukrainian environmental NGO Mama-86, “this is the cause of public discontent, and unpleasant odors formed by specific air pollutants are considered one of the factors that can negatively affect human health.” However, there are no studies in Ukraine on the effects of odors on human health. However, components of these emissions such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and other harmful substances should be constantly monitored. After all, they belong to the 4th and 2nd classes of danger.” Marta Korchemliuk proposes to create an interdepartmental commission of representatives of local governments, state sanitary and hygienic supervision, environmental authorities, environmental inspectorate, emergencies, doctors, scientists, and the public to study the problem in detail. If necessary, invite not only domestic but also international experts. Human rights activists urge the population not to put up with the situation but to go to court. In particular, such decisions were made by the European Court of Human Rights. There are many others, but which are purely commercial. The authorities cannot and do not want to solve the stench problem. It is reflected in the inaction of public utilities, as no proper attention is paid to treatment facilities. In addition, the activities of numerous deputy commissions are only temporary and do not include an active mechanism. Problematic issues are transferred to others – from one company to another. In my opinion, Lvivvodokanal benefits from such schemes. Therefore, it will be difficult for ordinary residents of Lviv to receive compensation for the stench. Prospects – well-designed complaints supported by medical and legal evidence. But unfortunately, in reality, doctors are in no hurry to issue certificates to victims of stench, and lawyers do not always understand how to file such complaints to local and regional authorities. “Spreads his hands” and speculates on the problems of city residents. Participants of human rights and environmental organizations call on public councils to be active and hold open public hearings. After all, only by joint efforts will the people of Lviv finally be able to comprehend the full severity of the stench problem in their city and take decisive action to solve it.