BRISTOL, Va. — The city of Bristol, Virginia, on Friday agreed with Bristol, Tennessee's assertions and demands made in a lawsuit filed Thursday and is offering to pay part of that city's legal bills if city leaders will settle the complaint.
On Thursday, Bristol, Tennessee, filed the 63-page complaint in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, blaming its sister city for not properly managing its landfill, creating a health hazard and nuisance.
Bristol, Tennessee, is also seeking a temporary injunction, asking a judge to force Bristol, Virginia, to take a series of actions — as recommended by an 11-member expert panel assembled by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. That panel set out 10 primary recommendations regarding the quarry landfill.
On Friday, Bristol Virginia Mayor Anthony Farnum and City Manager/City Attorney Randy Eads released a statement agreeing to follow those recommendations, seeking Bristol, Tennessee’s help in securing outside funding to help pay for the work and offering to pay $250,000 of the Tennessee side’s legal bills. Bristol, Tennessee, has spent at least $480,000 on legal bills concerning the issue.
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“Yesterday, the city of Bristol, Tennessee filed a three-count complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia alleging the City of Bristol, Virginia has violated the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and has created a public nuisance due to the odors emanating from the City’s landfill,” the statement began.
After setting out details of the complaint, the city then offered its settlement proposal.
“In an effort to limit unnecessary litigation, to minimize the financial exposure of legal fees for the citizens of Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee, and to ensure available financial resources are expended to correct issues associated with the landfill, the city of Bristol, Virginia is prepared to offer the following to fully settle the lawsuit filed on May 26,” according to the statement.
When contacted, Bristol Tennessee Mayor Mahlon Luttrell said he had not seen Bristol, Virginia’s proposed settlement agreement. Other City Council members contacted either did not return calls, or had no comment on the issue.
In its settlement proposal, Bristol, Virginia, offers the following:
“1. The city of Bristol, Virginia will agree to temporary injunctive relief:
a. Bristol, Virginia agrees to be enjoined from violating the CAA and RCRA and requiring Bristol, Virginia to comply with CAA and RCRA as soon as practicable, including, but not limited to, implementing the recommendations set forth in the expert report;
b. Bristol, Virginia will take all actions necessary to eliminate the odor created by the landfill, including, but not limited to, implementing the recommendations set forth in the expert report;
c. Bristol, Virginia will cease accepting outside commercial waste after the landfill is contoured to maximize stormwater runoff retention in the southeast corner of the landfill as discussed in the expert panel report;
d. Bristol, Virginia will develop a plan for the closure of the landfill in accordance with the expert panel report and publicly release the plan within 120 days of Bristol, Tennessee agreeing to the terms of this proposed settlement agreement outlined herein;
2. Bristol, Virginia will compensate Bristol, Tennessee in the amount of $250,000 for its costs incurred in this litigation, which include its reasonable attorneys’ and expert witness fees;
3. Install a sidewall odor mitigation system around the perimeter of defendant’s landfill, if it is determined to be successful based on engineering standards after testing a sidewall odor mitigation system at the landfill. Funding from the state government, federal government or other granting agencies may be necessary to accomplish this task and Bristol, Virginia will aggressively seek outside funding to install a sidewall odor mitigation system. Bristol, Tennessee agrees to aggressively assist Bristol, Virginia in seeking outside funding opportunities;
4. Install and monitor a dedicated system of thermocouples in the waste mass to monitor landfill temperatures. Funding from the state government, federal government or other granting agencies may be necessary to accomplish this task and Bristol, Virginia will aggressively seek outside funding to install thermocouples in the waste mass to monitor landfill temperatures. Bristol, Tennessee agrees to aggressively assist Bristol, Virginia in seeking outside funding opportunities;
5. Cease accepting outside commercial waste at the landfill after the landfill is contoured to maximize stormwater runoff retention in the southeast corner of the landfill as discussed in the expert panel report;
6. Provide adequate cover of the waste at the landfill; and
7. Submit a report within 120 days, from the signing of a settlement agreement, detailing how the other recommendations of the expert panel report will be accomplished.
8. Bristol, Tennessee agrees Bristol, Virginia will have to identify funding sources to accomplish many of the recommendations of the expert panel. Both entities acknowledge the entire costs of these corrections cannot be borne solely by the citizens of the city of Bristol, Virginia.”
“Bristol, Virginia is looking forward to resolving this litigation, as being in the best interest of all the citizens, and moving forward as a united community in the future,” the statement reads.
In its motion for an injunction Bristol, Tennessee, is seeking five things: installation of a sidewall odor mitigation system around the perimeter of the landfill; installation of a dedicated system of thermocouples in the waste mass to monitor landfill temperatures; for Bristol, Virginia, to cease accepting waste at the landfill, to provide adequate cover of the waste and for the city to submit a report within 60 days detailing how the other recommendations of the expert panel report will be accomplished.