Bristol, Virginia city leaders approve work order to aid in ‘unusual odor;’ follow environmental guidelines

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Bristol, Virginia city leaders voted Tuesday night to fix an upcoming complaint of many within the area — an abnormal odor filling the air.

It’s coming from the city landfill on Shakesville Road.

“I’m not really sure what this is but it doesn’t smell good and it doesn’t smell like it should be happening,” said Vice Mayor Anthony Farnum who lives about a mile from the landfill.

While City Manager Randy Eads said the air quality report didn’t indicate any health risks, he revealed community members from Bristol, Tennessee all the way to those near exit 7 have reported the unusual odor.

“It causes severe headaches. It’s very uncomfortable to breathe. After several minutes if you stay outside it can cause burning in your chest, it can cause burning in your eyes and in your throat,” said John Dorsey during public comment. ‘This isn’t an inconvenience, it’s not just something that we don’t want to smell.”

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality even got involved.

“We have met with DEQ at night out at the landfill to discuss these odors,” Eads said. “They’ve come out to smell the odors as well.”

The city has to provide an “odor control management plan” within 120 days and their involvement goes beyond the stench.

“They require landfills to have landfill gas lines so you can gas off the methane and either burn it through a flare or collect it and use it in some other manner,” said Eads.

The smell can be attributed to increased amounts of rain.

“Each of the past three years we’ve had about 60 inches of rain each year. The average rainfall for the year for this area is supposed to be 45,” said Public Works Director Wallace McCulloch.

Along with the rain, a consultant with Draper Aden Associates and an engineer with SCS Engineers says the high compaction ratio of trash and pipe issue factor in.

“The logistics are to excavate within the waste and install a horizontal gas collector and that will serve as an extraction component to harvest the gas that’s generated within the waste mass,” said Bob Dick, the Senior Vice President of SCS Engineers.

The work order would cost $90,000 in addition to the $30-40,000 needed for materials.

The project might not entirely fix the problem but has to be done.

“It will absolutely have a positive effect but it also has to be done from a regulatory standpoint,” said Ernie Hoch, the Manager of Solid Waste and Environmental Division for Draper Arden. “There is a wonderful list of regulations that have to be met in a landfill that produces this much gas. It has to be captured. It can’t just be let off into the atmosphere.”

The board passed the work order in a 4-1 vote.

Work could start as soon as Monday and continue for three to four weeks.

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