Legacy asbestos management in remote communities

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Legacy asbestos management in remote communities




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Presentations text content in Legacy asbestos management in remote communities

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Legacy asbestos management in remote communities

By Glenn MarshallDirector Works & InfrastructureCentral Desert Regional CouncilPresentation to Inaugural Municipal Services Conference – NT Local Government7 Oct 2015

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What is ‘legacy asbestos’?

Old and no-longer-used asbestos lying around the communityMight be in house yards or on edge of community.Typically in old landfills or in rubbish/dirt dumping areasTypically old cement sheets and water/sewer pipes

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Today’s Message:

Don’t ignore legacy asbestos, you know it exists.Assess risks to your staff and residentsEstablish programs to manage risks, within budgets, staff resources & safety limitsSeek partnerships and fundingCommence achievable actions

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How big is the problem?

NT Asbestos Register lists asbestos in buildingsNo registers for legacy/dumped/random asbestosIt can be found anywhere around the communityOlder communities are worst.

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Risks to Residents

Dangers are poorly understood by residents

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Risks when lying on the edge of communities

If undisturbed, probably low riskGrass fires tend to make it more friable & dustyPotential disturbance & dust by Council field staff during plant operationBe cautious!

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Regional Waste Coordinator

A position funded mostly by NT Dept Health since 2013.Works across Central Desert, Barkly and MacDonnell CouncilsHas been focused on setting up quality landfill sites and hazardous waste management (excluding asbestos)In late 2014, obtained $45,000 for pilot Community Legacy Asbestos Mapping Project at Yuendumu, Papunya and Ali Curung.Funded by Aust Govt Asbestos Safety and Eradication ProgramIn June 2015 obtained a further $75,000 from ASEP to map a further 15 communities in the 3 Regional Councils.Current NT Asbestos Removal program has been of limited helpWillowra example

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Central Desert Council’s Strategy

Community audits – where are the problem areas?Train staff – identification, make safe, handlingFence off and sign old landfills, dumping grounds & contaminated areasInstall EPA-approved asbestos disposal pitsEducate community about asbestos – identify & report suspected asbestos, leave it alone.

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Asbestos Disposal Pit at Yuendumu

In 2013, Council sought and was granted NT EPA approval to install an Asbestos Disposal Pit at the current landfill site.This was for local asbestos only.EPA were encouraging and supportive of the move.It has proved very handy for small volumes of locally derived asbestos from contractors and Works staffAdministrative reporting at the end of each year is onerous (20 page report) and costs $500.We have argued that we do not have the resources or funds for this, but feel on deaf ears.

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Yuendumu case study

4 legacy landfill/dumping areas identified1 since fenced off, others still open access.

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Yuendumu legacy landfill 1

Did a detailed walk-through audit of 15ha legacy landfill/dump next to active landfill.

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Yuendumu legacy landfill 1

Found and sampled multiple possible asbestos samples.Got them analysed. Virtually all were asbestos.Area was then fenced off by Works Crew with 4 strand stock fence and ‘Danger Asbestos’ signs.Minimal risk to Crew. Fence is minimum 20 metres from nearest asbestos samples.Other 3 sites are scheduled for fencing, but Councilcurrently lacks funds for fence materials.

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Active landfill next to old landfill

The legacy dump is unwind of the current landfill.

Do asbestos fibres blow into the work area of our Staff?

We sampled 8 handfuls of dirt from within the current landfill.

All were analysed in Adelaide for individual asbestos fibres

None came back positive

If we still held concerns, next step would be to sample the air, preferably on a windy day.

This is expensive and not currently being considered.

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Yuendumu existing landfill

In July 2015, possible recent asbestos dumping at the active landfill was reported by the Team Leader Works.The Regional Waste Coordinator inspected the site.One obvious asbestos pipe (1m) was found, wrapped and removed to the asbestos disposal pit.A further six (6) cases of cement sheeting were found in various locations (4 looked very much like asbestos):construction waste area;green/woody waste areascrap metal areapublic drop-off areaentry road to asbestos disposal pitAll were sampled and posted for analysis to Adelaide

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Yuendumu existing landfill (cont)

The smaller deposits were immediately removed by the Works Crew to the asbestos disposal pit.

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Yuendumu existing landfill (cont)

Scattered deposits were surrounded by portable fence panels with ‘Danger Asbestos’ signage.After analysis, only one was confirmed as asbestos, on the entry road to the asbestos disposal pit.It was old asbestos sheeting broken into multiple 20-cent sized pieces along a 30m x 4m section of the entry road.The options were i) remove 400mm layer of soil to asbestos disposal pit; ii) cover with 400mm soil and permanently fence off.

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Yuendumu existing landfill (cont)

To minimise risk to the Works Crew, soil was carted in and the area permanently fenced.A new access road to the asbestos disposal pit has been created.LESSONSTreat all suspected asbestos as real asbestos until proven otherwise.Get suspected asbestos analysed.Isolate suspected asbestos immediately until proven to be asbestosIf intact and easy to remove, consider wrappingand removing it

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Staff Training at Yuendumu

In 2013, Council provided Cert II Asbestos Identification and Handling training to the Works Crew at Yuendumu.They have subsequently removed several cases of real or suspected asbestos.In 2014 NT Work Safe assessed Council’s training and methods, found them sound and allowed it to continue.Council only allows removal of intact, non-friable asbestos pieces by its staff. Anything that is friable, flakey, crumbling or burnt is left alone, fenced off and sign posted.If it is in a risky area, experts are called in to remove it (this has only been done once due to very high cost)

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Properly nullifying legacy asbestos risk

Council is assessing the scope and costs to properly nullify risky legacy asbestos at the 4 legacy sites.First actions are:Fence and sign sites to stop public access or further dumpingInstall firebreaks around fence line to minimise further incidental burning of asbestos (making it more friable/dusty).Further affordable actions are limited.If funding is ever secured (probably millions of $):Detailed audit/sampling of each area to clarify type, extent, location & condition of asbestosDozing up asbestos-laden dirt piles into one pile.Covering those piles with 500mm clean soil cap.Or: excavate large pits and push contaminated dirt into those

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Questions or comments?

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