|In a small city located in Southwest Virginia lies a community plagued daily with noxious gases that have made life unbearable to live for its residents. Bristol City operates and manages a quarry landfill placed in the heart of the community. The landfill has not been a good investment for the city. In recent years, due to delayed maintenance, climate change caused increased precipitation, and other issues, gas emissions from the landfill have made life is unbearable for many Bristol, VA, and Bristol, TN residents.
“On a nightly basis, our schools, homes, churches, and businesses are inundated with the landfill gases, severely impacting our community members.”Pastor Sam Weddington, Pastor of First Presbyterian Bristol, TN
Residents—including children and the elderly—experience the following symptoms regularly:
- nose bleeds
- increased asthma episodes
Our Work in Bristol
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light led a Fact-Finding Delegation to show community and faith leaders across Virginia the ongoing struggle of local residents of Bristol, VA. The community aims to close the Bristol City landfill and mitigate the effects it has had on their quality of life.
On March 29th, 2022, over twenty community leaders were present for the delegation. The event included several keynote speakers, and a tour around the local school and the Bristol Landfill.
Members of Bristol spoke about their personal experiences of how the landfill has personally affected their lives and the lives of their families. Speakers included state delegates Israel O’Quinn and William C. Wampler, who agreed it was time to close the landfill. VAIPL staff spoke with a member of the Department of Environmental Quality staff member about the harmful effects that the landfill has had on the inhabitants of Bristol.
Watch our Environmental Justice Now episodes to hear from the residents of Bristol, and to learn more about their experiences with the Bristol Landfill.
Resources on the Bristol Landfill
In an effort to understand the impacts of the landfill, in 2021, air samples were collected around the Bristol landfill and analyzed by Wilma Subra, a Louisiana-based chemist is president of Subra Co., a chemistry lab and environmental consulting firm. These samples were used to complete a risk analysis and to measure and quantify the cumulative health and exposure impacts on the communities near the landfill. From the analysis, it was concluded that “The cumulative impacts of exposure and health impacts associated with up to 25 volatile organic compounds and a host of other chemicals that were not tested for, that were potentially present in the ambient air community members are breathing, have the potential to result in extensive cumulative acute health impacts and long term cumulative health impacts due to chronic exposure.” (Wilma Alpha Subra, “2021 Air Samples Around Bristol Landfill Risk Analysis”, March 2021)
The city has provided odor report forms that residents of Bristol can fill out so that they can pinpoint the location of the noxious odor and its effects. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has also developed a webpage dedicated to gathering data and answering questions about the landfill. VAIPL has started a petition for closing the Bristol Landfill.