The Bulletin

Bristol, Virginia council approves landfill settlement with Bristol, Tennessee

By: - April 17, 2023 5:54 pm

A historic sign over State Street in Bristol, which serves as the Tennessee-Virginia border through downtown. (Sarah Vogelsong / Virginia Mercury)

The city of Bristol, Virginia signed off Monday on a settlement of a federal lawsuit from neighboring Bristol, Tennessee over odors from its landfill that have been plaguing the area for several years.

The Bristol, Virginia City Council formally approved the consent order, which will require paying the Tennessee city $300,000 in attorney fees and permanently closing the landfill, on a vote of 5-0. The Virginia city will also monitor air quality on the Tennessee side of the landfill and make the results of that monitoring public.

“I know that some people had some concern with some wording about it being permanent closure, but I know a lot of us agreed it was going to be permanent closure anyway,” said Councilman Michael Pollard. “Basically, we’re getting the issue resolved and getting it behind us. We’re going to be able to move forward as a community.”

A joint statement released Friday by the cities said “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.”

Bristol, Tennessee filed the lawsuit in May 2022 against its neighboring city following complaints from residents about odors from the landfill. A report from an expert panel convened by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found that because the landfill had no onsite stormwater management system, water was saturating the waste, while an inadequate liner was allowing gases to escape from the site. 

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office in January filed its own lawsuit against the Virginia portion of the city. That case was settled earlier this month with Bristol agreeing to conduct air monitoring, install a cover over the landfill and drill wells to remove both gas and liquids from the site. A potential fine of over $370,000 will be suspended if Bristol follows through on its deal.


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Charlie Paullin
Charlie Paullin

Charles Paullin covers energy and environment for the Mercury. He previously worked for Northern Virginia Daily in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and for the New Britain Herald in central Connecticut. An Alexandria native, Charles graduated from the University of Hartford initially wanting to cover sports. He's received several Virginia Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, local government and state politics.