Bristol VA Landfill

A statement from the City of Bristol, Tennessee regarding the
 ongoing community impacts of the Bristol, Virginia landfill

November 5, 2021

The Bristol, Tennessee City Council has heard the complaints of residents affected by odors and other emissions from the Bristol, Virginia landfill, including reports of adverse symptoms believed to be a result of exposure to these odors and emissions. City Council takes these concerns raised by its citizens very seriously. City Council is also concerned about the impact of the odors on the City’s own property, operations and duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. For these reasons, City Council is taking the following actions:  

First, we have reached an agreement with Bristol, Virginia to gain access to the landfill site in order to collect samples that will aid in conducting an independent public health assessment. Once the results of those samples are available and assessed, the City will hold a public meeting with Dr. Laura Green, an independent toxicologist. Dr. Green will share the findings of the public health assessment and address questions that community members may have. Additionally, a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to the landfill and related environmental impacts is being compiled, and answers will be posted at bristoltn.org/BristolVAlandfill. This list of frequently asked questions will be updated as developments occur. This page will include notices about public meetings where the landfill will be a topic of discussion.

Second, City Council is evaluating a number of measures to provide direct relief to individuals impacted by landfill gas odors. The City can already assist homeowners who meet eligibility criteria, including federal income limits, with HVAC system upgrades through the City’s existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Emergency Repair Program. Further, the City is working with the state to vet a grant initiative to provide similar assistance to individuals not otherwise eligible for the CDBG program, and is exploring expanding grant-making efforts through community partners that could assist with the purchase of individual air purification units. As relief program details become available, information will be posted at bristoltn.org/BristolVAlandfill, along with all relevant eligibility and application information.

It is this Council’s firm desire to explore every option within our power to provide relief to our residents, and to fully understand the scope of the landfill’s impacts on our public health. City Council is committed to continuing to work to resolve this situation, and looks forward to receiving Dr. Green’s public health assessment.

  1. Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Assistance Programs

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?

According to updates released by the City of Bristol, Virginia, 21 new gas wells have been installed at the landfill. These wells are anticipated to be connected to the gas collection system by mid to late December 2021. Additional mitigation efforts are expected to follow.

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, Virginia 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.