In environmental law, nuisance applies to a party’s inability to allow the other party’s ability to enjoy the land on which they reside. The civil action of nuisance in application to environmental law is not necessarily contingent upon injury, it could simply constitute annoyance, welfare, health, or convenience.
Nuisance suits, in environmental law, pertain mostly to practices and property uses that encroach upon a neighbors right to enjoy their own property. The nuisance must constitute an unreasonable and objectionable public or private use of one’s land to the detriment of another’s. In environmental law, many public nuisances are considered crimes. Private nuisances make similar allegations; however, they more often involve civil court actions.
In application to environmental law. Two parallel scenarios will illustrate the concepts of private nuisance versus public nuisance. Environmental violators that are guilty of public nuisance in a civil court proceeding conduct lawful business in accordance with local zoning, health board, and environmental statutes. For example, many cities have a butcher district. The area is specifically zoned for that type of business.
However, many people live near that district but outside of that urban district. A slaughterhouse dumps its scraps lawfully in the dumpster outside but fails to keep the dumpster lid closed. The entire neighborhood smells of rotting meat scraps. Residential neighbors complain about the awful stench.
The slaughterhouse refuses to close the lid on the dumpster. The residential neighbors can sue the slaughterhouse for failure to make a reasonable request to curb the stench by closing the dumpster lid. This is an example of a private nuisance. The slaughterhouse is not guilty of violating public environmental law. However, the slaughterhouse still guilty of impeding on the residential neighbors’ right to be free from an unreasonably bad smell. Therefore, this example fall under private nuisance.
Keeping with the theme of slaughterhouses, an example of a private nuisance in violation of environmental law willed be forged. A slaughterhouse conducts its business in a lawfully zoned area. It has all its credentials and acts in accordance with the law. However, its business practices violate public environmental law by dumping meat scraps and blood in the canal near the back lot of the facility. Part of that canal lies on the facility’s property.
The canal empties out to a beach resort on the coast. Beach goers have noticed an unusually high amount of sharks in the waters. Fortunately, no one has been injured; However, word travels and shark infested waters are bad for business.
The beach resort has reason to suspect that it may be the blood that is attracting the sharks to the waters, threatening the livelihood of the private beach goers. The violation of environmental law is first reported as a private nuisance.
Upon investigation, it becomes a public nuisance because the state has a statute against dumping food scraps into the canal, especially blood. The beach resort can still bring civil action. However, the owner of the slaughterhouse is criminally liable for his violation of environmental law because it violates the public safety.