BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Days after the City of Bristol, Virginia requested federal and state assistance in fixing its landfill crisis, residents gathered in the City Council’s chambers to hear an update on mitigation efforts and push for greater assistance.
The city sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality urging them for assistance last week.
Bristol, Virginia City Manager Randall Eads addressed the public at the start of the meeting. He said he doesn’t know where the city stands with the EPA and Virginia DEQ yet, but was hopeful for some results soon.
“Based on a conversation that I’ve had this past week, that the letter that I’ve sent to the EPA and DEQ has reached some of the highest levels of the EPA,” Eads said.
Eads said it is still the city’s responsibility to fix the landfill gas issue, and the city would continue in that effort regardless of assistance, but wanted to do it with federal help.
“It’s our intent to fix this issue as quickly as we can,” Eads said. “It’s our preference that federal and state assistance is sent to Bristol, Virginia in order to help us correct these issues.”
Bristol, Virginia and Tennessee residents came to tonight’s meeting to express their support for the measure, but emphasized there is still work the city can do locally, such as providing air purifiers to residents.
“I appreciate what you’ve done to reach out for federal help, but it needs to be persistent and constant that you’re asking for help for your citizens,” said a Bristol, Tennessee resident during public comment.
Joel Kellogg, co-founder of Hope for Bristol, the group pushing for the closure of the landfill, said the call should’ve been made long ago.
“It should not have taken this long with our residents suffering day and night for months,” Kellogg said.
Meanwhile at the landfill’s wet well – divers from Spec Rescue removed fabric and replaced two monitoring pumps Monday and Tuesday. The well is part of the system that removes water from the landfill before it goes to the BVU Authority. It has seen high levels of the carcinogen benzene in the water.
“Spec Rescue also verified the depths and widths of the wet well,” Eads said. “We’ll be able to have a more clear idea of the amount of water and leachate that is in the wet well that we’re pumping out so we can design the system appropriately.”
Residents said they want a seat at the table for the decision making process.
On Wednesday, the City of Bristol, Tennessee will present its findings of a recent public health assessment to the public in an information session.
The session starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Slater Community Center. You can learn more about the assessment’s results HERE.