WHAT IS ASBESTOS
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that can typically be found in rock, such as Serpentinite, in parts of New South Wales as shown in this map. Asbestos becomes a health risk to humans when its ‘fibres’ are released into the air and are inhaled. Exposure to asbestos fibres, dusts or powders can cause lung diseases, including cancer.
Asbestos was considered a versatile product, because it can withstand heat, erosion and decay AND has fire & water-resistant properties.
Because of this, Asbestos has been used in a variety of building products. Some of these uses were in wall, flooring & roof sheeting (flat “fibro” and corrugated ‘Super Six”), along with water pipes, drainage pipes, flue pipes and even some floor tiles may contain asbestos.
In NSW, the use of asbestos was discontinued in sheeting and other building products by the mid-1980s. After this, asbestos continued to be used principally in friction products such as brake and clutch linings.
Asbestos that has been used in common building materials is described as either “non-friable” or “friable“.
Non-Friable Asbestos is any material (other than friable asbestos) that contains asbestos. Non- Friable asbestos cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. Non-Friable Asbestos is sometimes called ‘Bonded’ Asbestos.
If fire, hail, or direct activities such as water blasting and drilling damages Non-Friable / Bonded Asbestos, it may become “Friable” asbestos material.
Friable Asbestos material is any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder OR can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder, by hand pressure when dry.
Friable Asbestos was not commonly used in residential homes; but more often in industrial applications such as pipe lagging, sprayed limpet and asbestos cloths and ropes.
Council also has an Asbestos Management Policy which can be viewed below and further information can be obtained by contacting Council's Customer Service Team on 02 6740 2100.
POLICY - Asbestos Management - Adopted 15 March 2017.pdf
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Alternatively, more information can be found by visiting the following websites:
ASBESTOS AND YOUR HOME
If your home was built or renovated before 1990, then it’s likely to contain some type of asbestos building product.
Before renovating or planning to renovate you should have your house inspected for asbestos by a licensed asbestos removalist or an asbestos assessor. The only definitive way to tell if a building material contains asbestos is through sample analysis under microscopic examination at a registered laboratory.
Fibrous cement sheeting made with asbestos in the early 1980s looks the same as that made in the mid 1980s without asbestos. Vinyl tiles and sealants often require further testing using x-ray diffraction or scanning electron microscopy to confirm asbestos content.
BUILDING DEMOLITIONS AND RENOVATIONS CONTAINING ASBESTOS
Some types of building renovation, demolition work or earthworks require Council consent before work starts. Where asbestos material or naturally occurring asbestos is present, Council will place general conditions about safe work practices for asbestos on the consent, requiring compliance with relevant Australian Standards, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Guidelines.
Homeowners can presently remove less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos (‘fibro’), that is in good condition, provided appropriate safety precautions are used. However, it is recommended that non-friable asbestos removal work is carried out by a licensed asbestos removalist.
ONLY a licensed asbestos removalist can remove greater than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, from your building.
ALL work involving the disturbance of friable asbestos can only be completed by a licenced asbestos removalist. There are no licence exemptions for homeowners who may wish to undertake this type of work themselves.
There are two types of removal licences, Class A (Friable) and Class B (Non-Friable) issued by SafeWork NSW:
- Class A (Friable) asbestos removalist is licenced to remove, repair or disturb any amount of friable asbestos, such as fire damaged fibro houses, sprayed limpet, asbestos cloth, mill board and pipe lagging.
- Class B (Non-friable) asbestos removalist is licenced to remove, repair or disturb more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos material such as fibro, corrugated cement sheeting and asbestos cement pipes.
Check with your builder or maintenance contractor to ensure they are licensed to handle asbestos AND that they are disposing of the material at a waste management facility where asbestos disposal is approved.
For homeowner advice about how to remove, handle and store non-friable / bonded asbestos visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au.
COUNCIL'S ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Concerns or complaints regarding the inappropriate handling of asbestos, illegal dumping of material containing asbestos, or handling of material containing asbestos at non-work sites can be referred to Council for investigation.
For more information please visit the Reporting Issues section of Council's website.
Council may authorise work to rectify any unsafe or unhealthy conditions or arrange for the material to be collected once it has been rendered safe to handle and disposed of at Council's waste disposal facility.
Generally, where waste material containing asbestos is dumped or otherwise contained on private property, the material remains the responsibility of the property owner.
Where a complaint is made to Council with respect to waste asbestos material on private property, Council may investigate the complaint and, if necessary, direct the property owner to remove and safely dispose of the asbestos material.
Sites where work is being carried out by employees or a self-employed person(s) are considered workplaces. Workplaces are regulated by WorkCover NSW. If Council becomes aware of non-compliance at work sites, Council officers will refer the matter to WorkCover NSW.
ASBESTOS DISPOSAL IN THE GUNNEDAH SHIRE
Asbestos waste can only be disposed of at specific landfills located in various regions of in NSW. In the Gunnedah Shire Council area, asbestos can be disposed at:
Gunnedah Waste Management Facility
418 Quia Road, Gunnedah
A pre-arranged booking (with a minimum of 24 hours notice – 48 hours being preferred) must also be made to ensure correct preparations can be made at the site to safely handle and dispose of the asbestos material. Bookings for receival of asbestos are scheduled between 8am – 4pm ONLY.
Asbestos can not be lawfully disposed at any of Council’s rural waste facilities (landfills), nor any Waste Transfer Stations or Mobile Waste Service drop off points. Asbestos must NOT be deposited into your mobile garbage bin, recycling bin or street litter bins.
Significant penalties apply for the incorrect handling and disposal of asbestos or asbestos containing materials.
To dispose of asbestos at the Gunnedah Waste Management Facility (Gunnedah Landfill), you must arrange a booking by calling (02) 6742 3943.
Staff will require you to confirm the following actions have been completed AND may request additional details (to be provided to Council in writing) before a booking is scheduled.
1. MINOR LOADS (LESS than 100kgs OR LESS than 10 square metres of asbestos waste):
- Material must be packaged in two (2) sealed, heavy duty bags made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) at least 0.2mm thick.
- Each bag will have maximum dimensions less than or equal to 1.2m in height and 0.9 m in width and have a maximum weight of 15kg.
- Each bag must be marked “CAUTION ASBESTOS” in letters of not less than 40 mm in height.
- These sealed bags must be able to be placed on the ground in a manner which prevents their rupture and / or creation of dust.
2. GENERAL LOADS (MORE than 100kgs OR 10 square metres of asbestos waste – up to 10 tonnes), must, in addition to the requirements for MINOR LOADS above, also:
- Ensure compliance with the NSW EPA’s WasteLocate tracking requirements (refer to NSW EPA web page http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/wasteregulation/wastelocate-asbestos.htm)
3. MAJOR LOADS (MORE than 10 tonnes OR multiple truck load of asbestos containing materials) OR FRIABLE ASBESTOS:
- A disposal booking will only be offered once the Customer / Waste Generator provides Council with written details of the proposed means of transporting, packaging and unloading the asbestos containing material, which Council considers satisfactory. This documentation must include:
- The origin of the waste AND the demolition permits / consents or conditions that may apply to the property or works which generated the asbestos waste;
- The class of asbestos material to be disposed (Friable / Non-Friable) including a description of the materials such as “bonded sheets”, “floor tiles”, “lined pipes”, “soil” (as examples); AND
- The total volume of asbestos containing material to be disposed; AND
- The likely time of day and duration of the deliveries (if staged over several days / weeks); AND
- The proposed packaging arrangements; AND
- The type of vehicle in which the asbestos will be transport to the site including an unloading procedure which must prevents packaging ruptures and / or the generation of dust or the stirring up of dust; AND
- Confirmation that the delivery vehicle has functional remotely operated body / tailgate locks (if a standard tipping body) to avoid drivers needing to exit the vehicle in / near disposal activities; AND
- Incident management / public safety arrangements that are proposed, should a spill / rupture occur which results in the potential / actual release of asbestos dust in transit or on while site; AND
- Vehicle decontamination requirements after unloading (if necessary); AND
- Contingency arrangements for deliveries that may be cancelled by Council due to unfavourable weather conditions and / or unplanned waste facility operating disruptions.
- Compliance with the NSW EPA’s WasteLocate tracking requirements (refer to NSW EPA Tracking asbestos waste using WasteLocate)
While reasonable steps will be made to accommodate the disposal of MAJOR LOADS in a timely manner, bookings will be scheduled by Council at times that do not conflict with general operational needs OR create additional safety risks during disposal activities.
As such, Council may impose acceptance conditions for any booking AND / OR may suspend or defer receival due to non-compliance with disposal conditions or because of unforeseen circumstances including (but not limited to) weather conditions and equipment breakdown.
LOAD REJECTION & KEEPING DISPOSAL RECORDS
Council staff may reject the asbestos waste from the facility AND may report the waste generator / transporter to the NSW EPA / WorkCover NSW / SafeWork NSW for regulatory action, where asbestos waste is:
- not correctly packaged and handled during delivery and disposal, AND/OR
- is not disclosed by the transporter as being asbestos or asbestos containing materials, AND/OR
- arrives without a prior disposal booking.
Following appropriate disposal at the Gunnedah Waste Management Facility, it is wise to keep copies of receipts from the landfill as regulatory agencies (NSW EPA, WorkCover NSW, SafeWork NSW etc) may require you to produce these receipts as ‘proof of proper disposal’.