Households suffering traffic noise to get compensation
By Yi Whan-woo
The country’s environmental dispute mediator said Wednesday that households exposed to loud noise due to traffic will be eligible for financial compensation by the municipal government.
In the dispute between a city in Gyeonggi Province and its residents, the National Environmental Dispute Resolution Commission ruled that four of the 40 households living by a noisy thoroughfare be paid 4 million won in total. The mediator also ordered the local authorities, on which the commission refused to give any details for privacy reasons, to install soundproof barriers alongside the road.
The households filed a complaint in September 2011 against the city government which governs over the road that has a lot of noise pollution.
The group comprised of 135 people. They claimed they had suffered from sleep disruption since moving into the then-newly built apartment in June 1995.
The residents added that the traffic system by their residential area also puts their health at risk as well as causes a hearing disability.
“The level of the night-long noise seriously disrupted our night activities, and we were even stressed when we felt like opening the windows,” a resident said.
The commission conducted a sound level measurement at the resident’s homes, and found out the four households are exposed to a maximum of 66 decibels of traffic noise.
The government recognizes a person eligible for compensation for possible physiological and psychological damage when exposed to traffic noise equal to or higher than 65 decibels.
“Such level of decibels is comparable to a person hearing a telephone ringing constantly by one’s side,” said Kim Sun-ho, an executive director at the commission.
The residents initially asked for 546 million won with a daily increase of 6.75 million won from the day they filed a complaint against the city. They also demanded appropriate measures to be taken to reduce the noise, such as installation of soundproof walls.
The commission, a quasi-legal institution, ruled that the city must pay 4 million won and set up the soundproof system.
“The decision will be legally binding unless the city raises an objection and brings the case to court within 60 days from the date of ruling,” Kim said.