Bristol, Virginia Utilities Authority issues compliance order due to landfill benzene levels, city may face fines

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The Bristol, Virginia Utilities Authority (BVUA) has reached an agreement with city officials regarding the levels of benzene found in water discharged by the landfill into BVUA systems.

According to a copy of the document provided by the BVUA, the agreement was signed on Dec. 3 by Bristol, Virginia city manager Randy Eads and BVUA president and CEO Donald Bowman.

You can download and view the full document below:

The agreement states that benzene levels were found to be above permit limits a total of 30 times from Jan. 2018 through Oct. 2021. In addition to the benzene violations, the agreement states that the city violated permit limits of Barium output once in Jan. 2015.

The agreement also states that the city failed to provide a full Self-Monitoring report with all required parameters for the time period Jan. 1 – June 30 2021.

“These are repeat violations and are non-isolated violations of the permit,” the agreement states. “The City has acknowledged these past violations and worked in good faith since 2020 to address them. The City has retained outside consulting engineers and desires to take corrective action to comply with their Permit.”

As part of the agreement, the City of Bristol, Virginia must take the following steps:

  • Construct a storage tank at the landfill that will slow water output to 300 gallons per minute.
  • Consent to bi-weekly water testing by the BVUA and perform their own monitoring of water contaminants.
  • Construct a pre-treatment facility that will reduce benzene levels in wastewater to below .07 mg/L by Dec. 31, 2022 or a good-faith effort extension of another six months.

If the city fails to meet these conditions or if benzene levels exceed the set limits again, it could cost them.

“To our knowledge, this action is the first regulatory action identifying specific timelines and outcomes,” Bowman said in the release. “Alongside the community, BVU looks forward to the City completing the requirements outlined in the Agreement. We hope the City’s will work to resolve this issue well in advance of the established deadlines.”

According to the agreement, every future violation of benzene permits will subject the city to a $1,000 fine. The city also agreed to reimburse the BVUA for any fines they may incur after benzene violations.

There are also fines associated with failing to report test results, failing to respond to notices of violation, and a $10,000 fine for each month the wastewater flow rate stays above the limits outlined agreement.

If the city constructs a facility to pre-treat water leaving the landfill within agreement timelines, the BVUA agrees to waive all fines and will not expect payment of any fines until the facility is complete.

The agreement was made in the wake of discontent and even protests throughout the city citing foul odors arising out of the landfill. City officials say work to implement gas management systems is underway.

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