Victories Around the World

Court orders industry to inform citizens about air pollution

In January, ELAW partners in Ukraine celebrated a high court ruling ordering a subsidiary of France’s Lafarge Cement to release information on plans to expand kiln capacity by switching fuels from natural gas to coal and used tires! This victory for clean air ends a three year dispute between Environment-People-Law (EPL) and JSC Mykolaivcement (Lafarge Group).  

Olena Kravchenko, 2011 ELAW Fellow
Olena is the Executive Director at Environment-People-Law (EPL), Ukraine’s leading grassroots environmental law organization. Olena is in Eugene for ten weeks to collaborate with ELAW staff on EPL’s work protecting communities and the environment. Many thanks to the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the American English Institute for making Olena’s Fellowship possible.

Emissions from cement kilns that burn coal and used tires pose a serious health risk to communities. EPL tried for three years to gain access to what should have been public documents outlining details of the scheme.

“ELAW provided enormously helpful scientific analysis,” says Olena Kravchenko, EPL Executive Director. “Liza Aleksyeyeva, our staff attorney on this case, was an ELAW Fellow in 2006. Her time with ELAW helped her build confidence and take the next step to winning justice.” Olena is now an ELAW Fellow herself, working one-on-one with ELAW staff and studying English at the University of Oregon’s American English Institute. 

EPL is working to ensure that Lafarge’s proposed expansion plans comply with Ukraine’s environmental regulations and do not pose hazards to residents. This high court ruling is the first of its kind and sets a good precedent in Ukraine for the public’s right to information about potentially polluting industrial activities.

Air and noise pollution must stop

Years of hard work have paid off! Residents of Murcia, in southeast Spain, have suffered for years – pungent emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from an asphalt roof manufacturing plant were making them sick. In January, Murcia’s High Court ruled that the ASSA plant must clean up its act!

ELAW partner Gines Ruiz, wrote: “This is a final ruling, which acknowledges the violation of fundamental rights through air pollution and noise . . . I’m thrilled!”

Spain: Air and noice pollution must stopGines is an attorney with AJA (Association for Environmental Justice), based in Murcia, in a fertile agricultural region on the Segura River known for oranges, lemons, and vineyards.

ELAW scientists worked with Gines to design air quality tests for benzene and other carcinogenic VOCs in the vicinity of the plant. Meche Lu, ELAW Environmental Research Scientist, prepared reports and an affidavit about the health impacts for local communities.

Congratulations to Gines and everyone at AJA for persevering and winning!

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