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Nov 04

The plan for Bristol’s quarry landfill

Posted on November 4, 2022 at 10:28 AM by Rick Belcher

randy C. Eads

                                                          In this Nov. 3, 2021, file photo, Bristol, Virginia City Manager Randy Eads gives a presentation about the ongoing work at the Bristol Virginia Landfill to members                                                              of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

                                                                David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier file

On November 1, Bristol Virginia hosted a very productive and positive open house to discuss the facts and the road ahead for addressing the odor issues at the Bristol Quarry Landfill. The city has also launched a new website dedicated to keeping residents in Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee updated with the latest information. It can be found at

There were many questions at the open house regarding the timeline at the quarry landfill. What happened in the past, what is happening now, and what is the plan moving forward? That timeline is as follows:

In January 2021, Bristol’s engineering consultants Draper Aden Associates and SCS Engineers designed an expansion of and improvement to the gas collection system in the southwest corner of the quarry landfill. At this time, the engineering consultants theorized that this expansion and improvement of the gas collection and dewatering systems would minimize the release of odors from the landfill.

In mid-2021, when the expansion of the gas collection system in the southwest corner of the quarry landfill did not mitigate the odors, Draper Aden designed a new odor mitigation plan. The plan included the installation of 21 new gas extraction wells (all installed in 2021), bringing the total number of such wells to 38. This solution also failed to mitigate odors emanating from the landfill.

At this point, on January 3, City Manager Randy Eads wrote a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting assistance in finding solutions.

The result of the city manager’s letter was the convening of an expert panel by DEQ in late March to discuss and propose solutions to mitigate odors. On April 25, the expert panel produced its report.

In June, based on the expert panel report, Bristol began installing intermediate cover at the landfill. Bristol also had SCS Engineers design and put to bid a dedicated system of temperature probes to measure the temperature in the waste mass.

In August, Bristol hired a member of the expert panel to work directly with the city to design and consult on the systems recommended by the expert panel to mitigate the odors emanating from the landfill. Bristol now has two members of the expert panel working on the landfill project.

August — October: Through a series of negotiations between the engineers and compliance officers of DEQ and Bristol’s consultants, a consensus was reached on a timeline to complete the recommended actions coming out of the expert panel report. They include:

Cease acceptance of waste – Completed on September 9,

Installation of intermediate cover – completed on October 10,

Installation of a dedicated thermocouple system temperature probe system. Construction began on October 26. Installation will be done by December 31.

Sidewall Odor Mitigation System: Design is in the process of being put out to bid. Construction to begin in December with an initial 220 feet of the system in place by December 31. Construction will continue through 2023 with construction completed by June 14, 2023.

Gas Collection Systems: Dual Phase Extraction Wells – minimum of five – design will be put to bid in the next month. Installation completed by June 20, 2023.

Perimeter Gas Collection System near sidewalls: Gas wells will join in with existing gas collection system – installation to begin by March 15, 2023

Leachate Extraction & Monitoring: Plan submitted November 1. Report on sampling and analysis to begin December 1.

Develop Stormwater Plan: Includes construction of storm water basin before installation of Ethylene Vinal Alcohol (EVOH) cover. Work on EVOH design to be completed in the next two to three months. A temporary synthetic membrane will be installed over the landfill once all remediation actions completed

Regular maintenance and monitoring.

At base, these steps will pull liquid and gas out of the landfill, and seal the other parts of the landfill to stop gases from escaping.

As this critical work takes place, it is essential that everyone is communicating in a productive manner. Critics of our efforts have at times taken liberties and provided distortions of the truth. This does not help in our common goal to solve the problem. Facts do matter. In addition to sharing our plans and timeline, it is important to set some issues straight for the record:

The city of Bristol, Virginia has worked with its regulators at DEQ to operate the Bristol Quarry Landfill since December 2020 while developing a plan to address odors at the facility. We stopped accepting waste at the landfill earlier this year.

The city of Bristol, Virginia has paid the city of Bristol, Tennessee $291,558.24 for legal fees since the filing of the action in federal court. In an effort to help resolve the federal litigation and to prevent both city’s taxpayers from expending exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars in legal fees, Bristol, Virginia readily agreed to $250,000 of Bristol, Tennessee’s legal fees in June 2022. The United States District Court ordered Bristol, Virginia to pay $41,558.24 of Bristol, Tennessee’s legal fees associated with a Motion for Extension of Time to complete some remediation efforts that were previously agreed to in June. This is a common practice in these types of disputes and has nothing to do with the “strength” of either side in the case. In fact, in this case, the court agreed more time is warranted to execute and implement the plan.

There has always been a sense of urgency in Bristol, Virginia to address odor issues at the landfill. At the January 12, 2021, Bristol City Council meeting, a $90,000 appropriation was approved to upgrade the dewatering and landfill gas systems. The city implemented everything our consultants, engineers and DEQ advised us to do in 2021.

Multiple and significant actions have been taken by Bristol, Virginia including the convening of the expert panel long before the court case was filed. The federal court action was not filed until May 26, 2022. It is a false representation that the federal court filing had any influence on the DEQ’s formation of the expert panel.

At every turn, Bristol, Virginia has offered to work collaboratively with our colleagues in Bristol, Tennessee. The federal lawsuit is costing the taxpayers of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia, millions of dollars.

We sincerely regret the impacts of the odor issues at the quarry landfill. As a city, Bristol Virginia is committed to addressing and fixing these issues as efficiently and safely as possible. We will continue to provide updates on the remediation efforts on the new landfill website, and look forward to continuing a productive dialogue while working together as a community to tackle this significant challenge.

Randall C. Eads is the city manager and city attorney for the city of Bristol, Virginia. 

This Op-Ed was published by the Bristol Herald Courier 11/4/2022