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Bristol, Va. fined $3,000 for high benzene levels

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BRISTOL, Va.— The BVU Authority assessed $3,000 in fines against the city of Bristol, Virginia for exceeding benzene levels prescribed in its landfill permit last week.

On Friday BVU issued a monthly warning notice of violation that elevated benzene levels were detected in city wastewater in samples gathered Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 30, according to the notice. Benzene is a carbon-based derivative

The notice included $3,000 in fines — the first since the city and authority reached a mutual agreement for the city to address benzene seeping into the wastewater treatment system. The problem was first reported in 2018 and benzene has appeared in excess of its permitted level in each subsequent sample taken, according to BVU.

The city hasn’t yet determined the source of the benzene but is actively seeking that information, according to the agreement.

The city’s landfill permit allows no more than 0.07 milligrams per liter of wastewater. The notice of violation included sample readings of 0.53 milligrams per liter on Nov. 10, 3.21 milligrams per liter on Nov. 17 and 2.0 milligrams per liter on Nov. 30.

On Dec. 3, BVU and the city announced an agreement requiring the city to take comprehensive corrective actions to address deficiencies, implement controls and risk management practices on benzene levels. The agreement also limits wastewater volumes and flow rates through an equalization flow tank. The priority is removal of the benzene as soon as possible.

The city agrees to implement pretreatment of wastewater for benzene by Dec. 31, 2022, but that could be extended by six months if the city demonstrates it is actively attempting to resolve the problem.

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