Jason Miyares. Official portrait.
Jason Miyares. Official portrait.

The city of Bristol, Virginia, has been slapped with another lawsuit over ongoing odor and air emissions problems at its landfill – this time filed by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares on behalf of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Waste Management Board and the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board.

The lawsuit – filed Friday in Circuit Court in Richmond – seeks a civil penalty of $32,500 per day per violation for a number of violations of the state’s environmental laws and regulations. According to the suit, the city continues to violate Virginia Air Pollution Control permits, Air Pollution Control laws and regulations, solid waste permits, the Virginia Waste Management Act and waste regulations.

For more than two years, residents of Bristol, Virginia, Bristol, Tennessee, and surrounding areas have complained about noxious odors from the landfill. Some residents close to the dump on Valley Drive have claimed they’ve suffered respiratory issues, headaches, sleeplessness and other health problems as a result of the stench and fumes.

The city has spent millions over the last two years trying to fix the issues, but all have failed. In recent weeks, the stench has been particularly strong in many parts of the city.

The dump, which has been monitored by state and federal officials, was finally closed to accepting trash in September, but remediation work continues.

In December, city leaders learned that the price to close the landfill is now expected to cost more than $60 million. Bristol, Virginia, labeled one of the most financially stressed cities in Virginia in 2017, is currently more than $100 million in debt.

Neither City Manager Randy Eads nor Mayor Neal Osborne could immediately be reached for comment Friday night.

The lawsuit also asks the court to order the city to come into compliance with applicable laws, regulations and permits, and issue an injunction limiting the operation of waste disposal until the city comes into compliance. It also seeks attorney fees and costs.

Susan Cameron

Susan Cameron is a reporter for Cardinal News. She has been a newspaper journalist in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee for nearly 40 years. She is based in Bristol. Reach her at susan@cardinalnews.org.