BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Bristol, Tennessee City Council members have unanimously voted to allow outside legal counsel to pursue legal action against their Northern neighbor Bristol, Virginia.
“We have been put in this position by Bristol, Virginia,” said Bristol, Tennessee vice mayor Vince Turner.
The resolution, which was passed without opposition Tuesday night, says that “quality of life of Bristol, TN residents is adversely impacted by odors emanating from [the] Bristol VA Landfill.”
According to the resolution and a release from the city, the firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP was retained by the city to advise officials on “appropriate measures” to deal with the issue under the Clean Air Act.
According to their advice, the council must serve all potential defendants with a Notice of Intent to Sue at lease 60 days before filing suit.
The release says the resolution allows the firm to draft the notice, and that the decision “simply serves to protect the city’s interests and preserve its legal rights.”
While the vote opens the option to sue, the resolution states that the decision does not “obligate the city to pursue legal action” or prevent private arbitration and settlement with the City of Bristol, Virginia.
The decision arises as Bristol, Tennessee officials investigate the impact of odors throughout the region, and Bristol, Virginia city manager Randall Eads recently signed an agreement with the Bristol, Virginia Utilities Authority promising to construct facilities to remove benzene from the water leaving the landfill.
Multiple area residents visited the meeting to express their frustrations with the situation.
“My husband and I have evacuated our home,” said one resident. “We woke up last Tuesday literally choking to death.”
“They have proved time and time again that they have to be forced into making the right decision,” said Turner.