Application No. 48939/99 Oneryildiz v Turkey: Death caused by methane explosion at municipal rubbish tip

The Turkish national authorities are being held responsible for deaths caused by an explosion and landslide at a municipal rubbish tip.

The Judgement in the case of Oneryildiz v Turkey was recently published following a decision taken by the European Court of Human Rights on 30 November 2004.
Two Turkish nationals, Mr Ahmet Nuri Ç1nar and Mr Ma_allah Önery1ld1z, lodged an application against the Republic of Turkey on 18 January 1999, under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

It was submitted that under the Convention there had been a breach of Articles 2, 8 and 13 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, in that the Turkish national authorities had been responsible for the deaths of the applicants close relatives and for the destruction of their property as a result of a methane explosion which occurred on 28 April 1993 at a municipal rubbish tip in Istanbul. Following a landslide caused by mounting pressure, the rubbish tip had erupted and engulfed some ten slum dwellings situated below it, including the one belonging to the applicant.

Thirty-nine people died in the accident.

The European Court of Human Rights determined that Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms protects citizens from a State neglecting the obligation to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdiction.

While there were safety regulations in force in Turkey in respect of the operation of household refuse tips, the rubbish tip since the start of its operation in the early 1970s, had been in breach of the relevant technical standards, and had subsequently remained in use despite contravening the health and safety and technical requirements laid down, in particular, in the Regulations on Solid-Waste Control, published in the Official Gazette no. 20814 of 14 March 1991.

There had been a specific danger of explosion due to methanogenesis, as the tip had .no means of preventing an explosion of methane occurring as a result of the decomposition. of household waste.

The authorities should therefore have recognised the danger the inhabitants were in as it was impossible for the administrative and municipal departments responsible for supervising and managing the tip not to have known of such risks. There had therefore been a violation of Article 2 and the Turkey was ordered to pay damage to the applicant and each of his three adult sons.

The judgement in application No 48939/99 can be found at the following link: www.echr.coe.int


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