Bristol VA Landfill
Landfill Air Sampling and Monitoring
Aug. 31, 2023
As stipulated in the final consent order, the City of Bristol, Virginia is to establish a monitoring network for the purpose of collecting air samples at the landfill and monitoring the presence of certain constituents of concern (COC). The results of this monitoring will be posted at https://bristolvalandfill.org/air-sampling-and-air-monitoring along with information and data collected from previous monitoring activity.
Consent Final Order and Opinion Issued
Aug. 28, 2023
On August, 28, 2023, Judge Jones issued a consent final order for permanent injunction and accompanying opinion regarding the proposed settlement between the City of Bristol, Tennessee and the City of Bristol, Virginia. Both documents may be viewed below.
Hearing to Consider Proposed Consent Order and Receive Public Comment Set for June 13
May 2, 2023
On April 17, 2023, the Bristol, Tennessee City Council voted in support of a draft consent order to resolve the litigation against Bristol, Virginia relating to the Bristol Landfill. The parties jointly presented the consent order to the Federal District Court for the Western District of Virginia for entry on April 24, 2023. Judge Jones has scheduled a hearing for June 13, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. to consider the order. As part of that hearing, Judge Jones will receive public comment. A copy of Judge Jones’ order regarding the June 13 hearing and the draft consent order may be viewed below.
Joint Statement from Bristol, Tenn. and Bristol, Va. on Lawsuit Settlement Agreement
April 14, 2023
Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia are jointly submitting a proposed Consent Order and Permanent Injunction and Other Relief (“Consent Order”) to both their City Councils on Monday, April 17th. The Consent Order settles the federal court case filed by Bristol, TN last year and represents the resolution of all claims and allegations that either party may have against the other relating to Bristol, VA’s operation and maintenance of the Quarry Landfill as of the date of entry of the Consent Order. As part of the Consent Order agreement, Bristol, VA will make a one-time payment to Bristol, TN in the amount of $300,000. Additionally, the Consent Order provides that no additional trash or other waste will be received, placed, or disposed of in the Quarry Landfill. Bristol VA is required to obtain Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“VDEQ”) approval to permanently close the Quarry Landfill once remediation efforts are complete under the Consent Decree entered into between Bristol VA and VDEQ. Finally, through the Consent Order, Bristol VA has agreed to conduct continuous air monitoring until a polyethylene cover has been placed over the Quarry Landfill. The air monitoring will test for certain emissions including hydrogen sulfide, total reduced sulfur, and volatile organic compounds, and results will regularly be made available to the public. Both Bristols are pleased to bring an end to the lawsuit by finding common ground to move the entire Bristol community forward and believe that this is an important step towards rebuilding trust and cooperation among their combined community.
- The Bristol, TN City Council will convene a special called meeting on Monday, April 17, at 5:00 P.M. in the auditorium at the Slater Center Community Center at 325 McDowell Street in Bristol, TN. The purpose of the Special Called Meeting will be to discuss and vote on a proposed Consent Final Order for Permanent Injunction and Other Relief to be entered in the litigation pending between the City of Bristol, TN and the City of Bristol, VA in the United States Federal District Court for the Western District of Virginia at Abingdon.
The meeting agenda and related documents may be viewed here.
Bristol, Tenn. Legal Counsel Comments on Landfill Consent Decree
Feb. 22, 2023
On February 21, 2023, Bristol, Tennessee’s legal counsel provided comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Attorney General on the Consent Decree submitted by VDEQ and the Attorney General to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond in the case of the Commonwealth of Virginia, et al v. the City of Bristol, Virginia. Bristol, Tennessee’s comments can be read here.
Request for Information Sent to Bristol, Va. Fire Chief, Fire Marshal
Feb. 3, 2023
A letter requesting information related to a January 19 Notice of Violation (NOV) issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was sent by Bristol, Tennessee Fire Chief Mike Carrier to the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal of Bristol, Virginia on Monday, January 30, 2023. A copy of that letter may be viewed below.
Public Comment Period Open for Consent Decree with the City of Bristol, Va.
Jan. 27, 2023
On Friday, January 27, 2023 the Office of the Virginia Attorney General and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality made public the terms of a judicial consent decree with the City of Bristol, Virginia. Public comment on the decree may be made by email to Victoria LaCivita, Director of Communications in the Office of the Attorney General, through February 27, 2023. The Consent Decree may be viewed here.
The City of Bristol, Tennessee remains committed to permanent closure of the landfill.
Statement Regarding Suit Filed by Virginia Attorney General
Jan. 20, 2023
On Friday, January 13, 2023, the Virginia Attorney General filed suit in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond against the City of Bristol, Virginia. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Waste Management Board, and the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board, and alleges violations of Virginia environmental laws and regulation at the Bristol, Virginia landfill. As has been stated in court filings and elsewhere, Bristol, Tennessee has asked Bristol, Virginia to implement the April 25, 2022 expert panel report, to prepare a specific timeline for such implementation, and to agree to permanent closure of the landfill. To the extent the Attorney General’s suit has the same goals, we welcome the Attorney General’s involvement. Regardless, Bristol, Tennessee intends to proceed with its own, separate litigation in Federal court to achieve those goals and memorialize Bristol, Virginia’s obligations in an enforceable court order. The Virginia Attorney General's complaint may be viewed below:
Motion for Mediation Granted
Jan. 4, 2023
On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, Bristol, Virginia's Motion for Mediation was granted. The order granting this motion and referring the case to United States Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent to conduct mediation proceedings may be viewed below.
Bristol, Va. Replies in Support of Motion for Mediation; Bristol, Tenn. Responds with Letter to Outside Counsel
Dec. 29, 2022
Following Bristol, Tennessee's response to the court as plaintiff regarding Bristol, Virginia's Motion for Mediation, Bristol, Virginia filed a reply on December 28 in support of its motion. In response, correspondence was sent today by Bristol, Tennessee's outside counsel to Justin Howard with McGuireWoods, outside counsel representing Bristol, Virginia. The defendant's reply in support of its Motion for Mediation and the letter sent in response may be viewed below.
- Defendant's Reply in Support of Motion for Mediation
- Dec. 29, 2022 Letter to McGuireWoods Regarding Mediation
Bristol, Tenn. Response to Motion for Mediation
Dec. 27, 2022
Bristol, Tennessee has submitted a response to the court regarding Bristol, Virginia's December 12 Motion for Mediation. This response may be viewed at the following link:
Court Denies Bristol, Va.'s Partial Motion to Dismiss
Dec. 21, 2022
On Wednesday, December 21, the court issued an order denying Bristol, Virginia's partial motion to dismiss the complaint filed by Bristol, Tennessee. The court's opinion and order may be viewed below:
Bristol, Va. Files Motion for Mediation
Dec. 15, 2022
Bristol, Virginia filed a Motion for Mediation on Monday, December 12. The motion may be viewed below.
Court Order Regarding Deadline for Thermocouple Installation
Oct. 20, 2022
The court issued an order on Monday, October 17 setting a deadline of December 31, 2022 for the installation of a dedicated system of thermocouples at the Bristol, Virginia landfill. This order may be viewed below.
Oct. 14, 2022
On October 13, 2022, Bristol, Virginia filed a Status Report with the court in response to the court’s October 11, 2022 order. The Status Report provides updates on (1) the status of the application of intermediate cover, and (2) a timeline on the progress of the installation of a dedicated temperature monitoring system. The report may be viewed below.
Court Order Regarding Bid Process for Thermocouple Installation
Oct. 12, 2022
On October 11, 2022, the Federal Court entered an order directing Bristol, Virginia to file a report with the court as to the status of the bid process for the installation of thermocouples (a requirement of the June 14, 2022 Preliminary Injunction Order). That order may be viewed below.
Status Report and Response
Sept. 23, 2022
On September 14, 2022, as ordered by the court, Bristol, Virginia filed a status report. Bristol, Tennessee filed its response on September 20, 2022.
- Status Report with Exhibit
- Declaration Status Report with Exhibits
- Plaintiff's Reply to Defendant's Status Report
Bristol, Tenn. Opposes Partial Motion to Dismiss Complaint
Sept. 2, 2022
The City of Bristol, Tennessee has submitted a memorandum in the Federal District Court in Abingdon opposing the City of Bristol, Virginia’s partial motion to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at declaring the Bristol Virginia Landfill a “public nuisance.”
The memorandum may be viewed below.
Deadlines Extended for Compliance with Preliminary Injunction
August 31, 2022
The Federal District Court in Abingdon has issued an order granting in part Bristol, Virginia's motion to extend certain deadlines in the preliminary injunction subject to conditions stated in the order. Bristol, Virginia must complete the installation of intermediate cover by October 10, 2022. Within 14 days, Bristol, Virginia must file a written report on the Court's public docket setting forth its efforts to accelerate the approved soil deposit on the landfill.
With respect to the thermocouples, the Preliminary Injunction's 90-day deadline is temporarily vacated. The Court will set an appropriate deadline after further submissions from the parties. Within 14 days, Bristol, Virginia must file a written report setting forth the timeline of its intended bid process and available options for expediting the installation of the thermocouples system. Bristol, Tennessee will have 7 days to respond. The Court will thereafter determine a new deadline date for installation of the thermocouples system.
The Court awarded Bristol, Tennessee its attorneys' fees and expenses incurred as a result of Bristol, Virginia's motion to extend the deadlines. The full order may be viewed at the link below.
Bristol, Tenn. Opposes Motion to Extend Deadlines in Preliminary Injunction
August 25, 2022
On Thursday, August 25, 2022, Bristol, Tennessee filed its brief in opposition to Bristol, Virginia's motion to extend certain deadlines in the preliminary injunction order. The document may be viewed below.
Bristol, Va. Files Partial Motion to Dismiss Complaint and Motion to Extend Deadlines in Preliminary Injunction
August 22, 2022
On Friday, August 19, 2022, Bristol, Virginia filed an answer to Bristol, Tennessee's complaint, as well as a partial motion to dismiss Bristol, Tennessee's complaint. Bristol, Virginia also filed a motion to extend certain deadlines contained in the preliminary injunction order. The filings are available below.
- Bristol, Va. Answer to Complaint
- Bristol, Va. Motion to Dismiss Complaint
- Bristol, Va. Memorandum to Support Dismissal of Complaint
- Bristol, Va. Motion to Extend Landfill Remediation Deadlines Established in Preliminary Injunction
- Bristol, Va. Memorandum to Support Extension of Deadlines Established in Preliminary Injunction
Bristol, Va. Response to Preliminary Injunction Item #5
August 18, 2022
One of the requirements of the Preliminary Injunction Order entered June 14, 2022 was item 5, requiring Bristol, Virginia to submit a report to Bristol, Tennessee “setting forth how Bristol, VA will accomplish implementation of all other recommendations of the Expert Report, including the permanent closure of the Landfill, within 60 days of entry of this Preliminary Injunction Order.” On August 15, 2022, counsel for Bristol, Virginia submitted to counsel for Bristol, Tennessee a “Report on Implementation of Expert Panel Recommendations” prepared by SCS Engineers. Bristol, Tennessee is making this report available to the public in a continuing effort to keep members of the public informed.
Status Conference Update
July 21, 2022
On July 20, 2022 a status conference was held with the parties involved in the landfill litigation. An order issued by the judge outlining certain timelines and procedures for the proceedings may be viewed below.
Bristol, Tenn. Issues Statement Regarding Pending Landfill Litigation
June 14, 2022
The City of Bristol, Tennessee has issued the following statement regarding the pending litigation resulting from the ongoing public nuisance caused by the Bristol, Virginia landfill:
Today, a significant victory has been won for the people of Bristol. Bristol, Tennessee has obtained an agreement from Bristol, Virginia to close the landfill and to immediately take actions to address the ongoing impacts on our community. This victory was achieved directly as a result of Bristol, Tennessee’s commitment to protecting its citizens. Bristol, Tennessee has carefully developed the necessary record to file legal action that enabled this agreement to be reached, and to ensure that it will be enforced in federal court. Below is the timeline associated with the actions taken by Bristol, Tennessee that led to this victory.
In September 2021, Bristol, Tennessee retained outside legal counsel to develop a strategy for addressing the landfill. Through legal counsel, a health toxicologist was retained to assess the health impacts of the landfill on our community.
On December 8, 2021, Bristol, Tennessee filed a notice of intent to sue Bristol, Virginia for violations of the Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and for damages incurred from the related nuisance conditions.
On January 12, 2022, Bristol, Tennessee held a community meeting with its health toxicologist to share the results of Bristol, Tennessee’s health risk assessment.
Also in January, public records were sought from Bristol, Virginia regarding the operation and maintenance of the landfill.
In March, 2022, Bristol, Tennessee’s attorneys filed suit against Bristol, Virginia for their failure to produce the requested records. A hearing was held in April, and the records were produced on April 20, 2022.
Also in March 2022, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) convened a panel of experts in Bristol, Virginia to outline the actions necessary to address the violations and other concerns at the landfill. Bristol, Tennessee retained a consultant that participated on that panel. The expert panel’s report was issued on April 25, 2022.
On May 26, 2022, the City of Bristol, Tennessee filed a verified complaint along with a motion for preliminary injunction in United States District Court in Abingdon, Virginia against Bristol, Virginia as a result of Bristol, Virginia’s continued failure to properly operate and maintain their solid waste landfill. This complaint alleges violations of both the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The motion for preliminary injunction seeks an order requiring Bristol, Virginia to implement the following actions:
- Install a sidewall odor mitigation system around the perimeter of Defendant’s Bristol Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility located at 2125 Shakesville Road, Bristol, Virginia, 24201(the “Landfill”);
- Install and monitor a dedicated system of thermocouples in the waste mass to monitor Landfill temperatures;
- Cease accepting waste at the Landfill;
- Provide adequate cover of the waste at the Landfill; and
- Submit a report within sixty days detailing how the other recommendations of the Expert Panel Report: Bristol Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility, Bristol, Virginia, dated April 25, 2022, will be accomplished.
A hearing on Bristol, TN’s requested preliminary injunction was set by the court for June 21, 2022.
On May 27, Bristol, Virginia submitted an offer to settle the matter, the terms of which were shared by Bristol, Virginia with and reported by local media. Bristol, Virginia’s offer did not include any timelines for implementation and was contingent on outside funding being obtained.
On June 2, Bristol, Tennessee, through outside counsel, reiterated its position that Bristol, Virginia must undertake the actions outlined in Bristol, Tennessee’s motion for preliminary injunction. Bristol, Tennessee drafted a preliminary injunction order that included those actions along with specific timelines suggested by Bristol, Tennessee’s engineering consultants: 90 days to install thermocouples, cease accepting waste, and provide adequate waste cover at the Landfill, and 365 days to install the sidewall odor mitigation system.
In direct response to the actions taken by Bristol, Tennessee, Bristol, Virginia requested to meet with DEQ. That meeting took place on June 7. At that meeting, Bristol, Virginia, for the first time, agreed to comply with the terms of the expert panel report. Additionally, based on a June 8 letter from DEQ posted on Bristol, Virginia’s website, Bristol, Virginia also committed to undertake the actions outlined in Bristol, Tennessee’s proposed preliminary injunction order, including the same timelines specified by Bristol, Tennessee. However, any consent order issued by DEQ would not take effect until August, at the earliest.
At noon on Wednesday, June 8, Bristol, Tennessee’s outside counsel received a response that Bristol, Virginia could agree to the preliminary injunction, but with some reservations.
On June 9, Bristol, Tennessee’s outside counsel responded to Bristol, Virginia, rejecting those reservations and reiterating the commitments needed from Bristol, Virginia. The parties continued to negotiate terms, with Bristol, Tennessee holding firm that specific actions and concrete timelines must be outlined in the order.
On June 10, Bristol, Virginia agreed to the terms demanded by Bristol, Tennessee, and the resulting preliminary injunction order was filed with the court this morning. We are optimistic that the judge will enter the order. Once entered by the judge, this order will provide a clear set of actions and enforceable timeline, starting from the date of entry of the order, for addressing issues at the landfill. While this order resolves Bristol, Tennessee’s motion for preliminary injunction, the lawsuit against Bristol, Virginia remains open, giving Bristol, Tennessee the ability to seek further enforcement action and damages if necessary. Bristol, Tennessee will closely monitor Bristol, Virginia’s compliance with this order.
The preliminary injunction order is the result of Bristol, Tennessee’s focused, diligent efforts to address the adverse impacts of the landfill on our community. Bristol, Tennessee looks forward to continuing a positive relationship with Bristol, Virginia as we work through this and future endeavors together.
- Stipulation Requesting Entry of Preliminary Injunction Order and Proposed Order for Signature by Judge
- Preliminary Injunction Order Entered June 14, 2022
Bristol, Tenn. Files Lawsuit Regarding Bristol, Va. Landfill
May 26, 2022
On Thursday, May 26, the City of Bristol Tennessee filed a verified complaint in United States District Court in Abingdon, Virginia against Bristol, Virginia in relation to the Bristol, Virginia landfill. Bristol, Tennessee also filed a motion for preliminary injunction and supporting memorandum.
Since the fall of 2020, Bristol, Tennessee has experienced impacts to its air, land and water treatment system as a result of improper management of the Bristol, Virginia landfill. Citizens have been significantly impacted by odors, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) has determined that the conditions at the landfill are an emergency that requires urgent action. VDEQ convened an expert panel in March 2022 to identify actions to be taken to address the conditions at the landfill. Although the expert panel released its report in April 2022, Bristol, Virginia has not implemented any of the recommended actions.
In filing this lawsuit, Bristol, Tennessee is exercising its rights under two federal laws, the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, to bring a citizen suit to require Bristol, Virginia to comply with its permits and to address the public danger created by improper management of the landfill. The request for preliminary injunction asks the federal court to order Bristol, Virginia to immediately cease the intake of waste at the landfill, as well as to implement the recommendations of the VDEQ expert panel that were identified as “urgent” and in need of immediate implementation. The complaint cites a number of operational deficiencies at the landfill that have resulted in multiple notices of violation from the DEQ and the consequences they have had on the public’s health and the environment.
“For at least two years, Bristol, Virginia has been in continual violation of the permits issued by DEQ while taking no concrete steps to address these problems,” said Bristol, Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah. “These violations stem from a failure to properly manage the landfill, which not only violates state and federal law, but has also resulted in a number of adverse impacts on the quality of life for our community.”
Bristol, Tennessee is also seeking to recover damages arising from Bristol, Virginia’s inadequate operation of the landfill. To date, Bristol, Tennessee has spent thousands of dollars to fund a program to provide air purifiers to economically disadvantaged residents; to obtain a report from a third-party toxicologist regarding the long-term health effects of continued exposure to landfill odors and emissions; and to explore the legal options available to protect the community and the city itself.
Once the complaint is served on Bristol, Virginia’s registered agent, the city will have 21 days to file a response. Bristol, Tennessee is represented by the law firm of Troutman, Pepper, Hamilton and Sanders, of Richmond, Virginia and by E. Lynn Dougherty of Bristol, Tennessee. The full text of the complaint and supporting documents may be viewed at the links below.
- Exhibits to the complaint are available upon request to the City Attorney's office.
- Expedited Motion for Preliminary Injunction
- Memorandum in Support of Preliminary Injunction
Bristol, TN Update on Landfill Matters
Feb. 7, 2022
Bristol, TN sent a Notice of Intent to Sue to Bristol, Virginia on December 8, 2021 for violations of the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as well as negligence and nuisance associated with the Bristol, Virginia landfill. We understand that many residents of both cities have questions about what comes next.
The Clean Air Act notice period is 60 days; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act notice period is 90 days.
The 60-day notice period under the Clean Air Act will expire on February 8, 2022. The 90-day notice period required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act will expire on March 16, 2022.
Any decision by Bristol, Tennessee to proceed with legal action will be voted on by City Council at a public meeting. Agendas for all meetings are usually posted at least 3 days in advance. You are encouraged to regularly check our website at www.bristoltn.org in order to stay up to date on what will be discussed at upcoming City Council meetings.
In the meantime, Bristol, Tennessee has worked to gather as much information as it can related to the Bristol, Virginia landfill. Bristol, Tennessee sent a Freedom of Information Act request for documents to Bristol, Virginia on January 11, 2022. Through its outside counsel, Bristol, Virginia provided a partial response to that request on the evening of February 2, 2022. Bristol, VA also stated that it will provide an update on February 8 as to when it will provide the remaining documents, and at what cost. We look forward to receiving that update, as well as to hearing from Dr. Craig Benson when he speaks to Bristol, Virginia’s City Council on February 8. Further, we continue to engage in conversations with state and federal regulatory agencies.
Our hope is that Bristol, Virginia can provide a plan and timeline for addressing the issues at the landfill, and that Bristol, Tennessee will be provided the opportunity to weigh in on that plan, to ensure that the plan fully addresses the violations, protects the environment, resolves the nuisance conditions created by the landfill, and prevents further adverse impacts to Bristol, TN. Our preference would be for that to happen without the necessity for litigation. However, Bristol, Tennessee’s City Council is ensuring the resolution of this situation through whatever actions may be appropriate.
Public Health Assessment Information Session
Jan. 13, 2022
On Jan. 12, 2022, Laura Green, Ph.D., , presented the results of the public health assessment for airborne emissions from the Bristol, VA landfill. The presentation and Q&A may be viewed below.
*At approximately the 1:11:53 mark of this video, a question was asked about the volume of petroleum coming into the landfill. Dr. Crouch responded that, based on preliminary calculations, the amount stated was 3 grams a year. Dr. Crouch has had a chance to review those calculations and has determined that the answer given on January 12 was incorrect. The best estimate based on the information he has is that approximately 840 grams of benzene is making its way into the landfill each day.
This was calculated from the following assumptions: The average flow rates of leachate and gradient water are those given in the Bristol VA 2019 Request for Proposal for sale of the Bristol, Virginia landfill which were 43,030 gallons per day and 176,750 gallons per day respectively, and both combined flow to BVU as wastewater. The average benzene concentration is approximately 1 milligram/liter in the wastewater based on the BVU Compliance Results Violation Report illustrated here. The product of these two values gives 840 grams/day benzene.
For context, that corresponds to about 30 gals/day of gasoline, assuming 1% benzene by weight in gasoline, which would make gasoline about 0.01% of the flow.
Pollution/Situation Report from EPA regarding Bristol, VA Landfill
Update: Jan.7, 2022
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, has issued a pollution/situation report regarding the Bristol, VA Landfill. The report is for the period between Oct. 9 and Nov. 30, 2021. The report is available here.
Public Health Assessment for Airborne Emissions from the Bristol, VA Landfill
Update: Dec. 22, 2021
The results of the Public Health Assessment, prepared for the City of Bristol, TN by Green Toxicology, may be viewed here. The full air sampling report and laboratory results prepared by Trinity Consultants may be viewed here.
The City of Bristol, Tennessee will host an information session where the findings of this report will be detailed and members of the public will be able to ask questions. This session will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 6:00 PM at the Slater Community Center at 325 McDowell St.
In light of ongoing pandemic conditions, Laura Green, Ph.D., president and senior toxicologist for Green Toxicology LLC, will deliver the presentation via live video conference, though attendees will still be able to ask questions directly. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts with honors from the department of chemistry at Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is certified by the American Board of Toxicology.
Socially distanced seating will be available in the Slater Center gymnasium with additional overflow seating in the auditorium. The session will also be live streamed on the city’s YouTube channel and on BTN-TV (BTES channel 16) with an opportunity for questions to be submitted electronically during the meeting.
Bristol, TN City Council takes additional actions related to Bristol, VA landfill
Dec. 7, 2021
At their business meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, the Bristol Tennessee City Council approved a resolution authorizing outside counsel to take steps to commence legal action against Bristol, Virginia relating to compliance issues associated with its landfill. The resolution directs the law firm of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders, LLP to prepare a Notice of Intent to Sue and serve it on the city of Bristol, Virginia. This move comes in response to the continued adverse impacts on the quality of life of residents due to odors emanating from the Bristol, Virginia landfill.
City Council was advised that in order to pursue legal action related to the landfill under the Clean Air Act, a Notice of Intent to Sue must be served on Bristol, Virginia at least 60 days before filing suit. This Notice does not obligate the city of Bristol, Tennessee to pursue legal action, nor does it prevent the city from working with Bristol, Virginia to resolve landfill-related problems in a non-judicial setting, but simply serves to protect the city’s interests and preserve its legal rights. If Bristol, Tennessee does pursue legal action, it would be aimed at resolving the continuing issues posed by the Bristol, Virginia landfill for the benefit of the city as a whole. The city is unable to seek damages on behalf of individual residents.
In other action taken by City Council, an amended appropriation agreement with United Way of Bristol TN/VA was approved authorizing up to $30,000 in additional funds to support the city’s air purifier assistance program. This total includes the $10,000 previously committed by City Council for this program when it was announced in November. These funds will be used by United Way to provide income-qualified residents of Bristol, Tennessee with in-home air purification units that may help alleviate the effects of landfill emissions in their homes. To date, United Way has received a total of 628 applications for assistance through the program. Units have been distributed to 59 individuals who have completed the qualification process, with an additional 51 applicants recently approved for pickup.
Answers to a number of frequently asked questions regarding the Bristol, Virginia landfill will be posted here.
What steps are being taken to mitigate the gases and odors coming from the Bristol, VA landfill?
The City of Bristol, Virginia posts landfill-related updates on their website here.
Where can I find the report from the EPA's previous air monitoring?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) conducted air monitoring activities in Bristol from June 9 - July 22, 2021. A report summarizing these activities and analytical results may be found here.
The EPA also conducted additional air monitoring from October 19 - 28, 2021. For all monitoring activities, EPA has stated that they will provide the data collected to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to assist in evaluating if the odors contain hazardous substances and if they pose a risk to human health.
Is there potential for my drinking water to be contaminated by the landfill?
The source of the City of Bristol, Tennessee’s drinking water is the South Holston River approximately 1.3 miles below the South Holston Dam. The river water is pumped to the Bristol, Tennessee Water Filtration Plant where contaminants are removed from the water and it is disinfected prior to distribution to the City’s 13,000 water customers. Utility Division staff collect water samples at various points in the filtration process and throughout the water distribution system. Water samples are analyzed for potential contaminants including bacteria, heavy metals, and organic compounds. Drinking water consistently meets or exceeds all health standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). Water is distributed to customers through a series of reservoirs, pump stations, pipes, and service lines. The lines are pressurized to serve customers and provide fire protection. Contamination from groundwater is highly unlikely since the lines are pressurized.
For anyone who is not a customer of Bristol, Tennessee's water system, please contact your water utility for any questions or concerns related to the safety of your drinking water.
Is there potential for the sanitary sewer system to contain gas and other contaminants from the Bristol, VA landfill?
Leachate from the Bristol, Virginia landfill is discharged to the sanitary sewer collection system owned and operated by Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority (BVU). The leachate mixes with other sources of sewage in BVU’s sewer collection system and ultimately discharges to the City of Bristol, Tennessee’s system, traveling southwest toward the wastewater treatment facility. The landfill is not directly connected to the City of Bristol, Tennessee’s sewer collection system.
The sewage diluted with the leachate does not flow through the areas of Bristol, Tennessee that have been heavily impacted by landfill gas odors, particularly the Fairmount, King University, and Forest Hills neighborhoods. While sanitary sewer systems can naturally contain gases that result from biological processes occurring in wastewater, it is highly unlikely the odors from the landfill being experienced by the citizens are originating from the Bristol, Tennessee collection system.
The impact of the landfill emissions may be affecting my mental health. What resources are available?
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), environmental concerns in your community can disrupt daily life, resulting in significant stress. This ongoing stress can lead to mental and physical health effects.
They have provided this fact sheet to share ways to help cope with the stress that environmental contamination can cause. Most importantly, if you or your loved ones begin to feel overwhelmed as a result of this stress, please seek help from:
- Your doctor
- A religious or spiritual leader
- A local mental health provider
If you are in need of someone to lean on for immediate emotional support, no matter what problems you’re dealing with, the Lifeline network is available for everyone. It's free and confidential. Call the Lifeline anytime, 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
Partners for Stronger Communities, formerly known as Bristol Crisis Center, is a participant in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Details regarding programs that may be able to provide relief to Bristol, Tennessee residents impacted by gas odors from the Bristol, Virginia landfill will be posted here.
Air Purifier Assistance Program
The City of Bristol, Tennessee has allocated funds to the non-profit United Way of Bristol, TN/VA to provide a select model of air purifier at no cost to City households that meet certain low-and-moderate income eligibility criteria.
According to manufacturer specifications, the purifier contains a five-speed adjustable fan along with an H13 HEPA filter, an activated carbon filter, as well as a UV light and photocatalytic filter designed to remove volatile organic compounds. Each unit is approximately 13 inches tall, weighs about four pounds and can cover an area of up to about 1,000 square feet.
Households interested in the program can complete the online air purifier assistance program application at unitedwaybristol.org. A United Way representative will contact applicants for additional eligibility documentation, and those approved will receive information about when and where the unit can be picked up.
For additional information or questions regarding eligibility criteria, please contact United Way of Bristol, TN/VA at (423) 968-4912 or visit unitedwaybristol.org.
This program has been adopted in response to requests from citizens for products that may relieve symptoms that residents say they are experiencing. In adopting this program, the City of Bristol, Tennessee is not endorsing any particular brand, make, model or type of air purifier, or guaranteeing that use of this air purifier will alleviate any symptoms. Neither the City nor the United Way of Bristol, TN/VA is providing any warranty with respect to the air purifiers being provided.
CDBG Emergency Home Repair Program
The City can currently assist homeowners who meet eligibility criteria, including federal income limits, with HVAC system or other upgrades through the City’s existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Emergency Repair Program.
For full eligibility requirements and program contact information, please visit the CDBG page here.