Asbestos-cement water pipe management: call for comment

Thursday, 09 July, 2020

Asbestos-cement water pipe management: call for comment

In 2018, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) released a report, titled ‘Case studies of asbestos water pipe management practices’, that examined six cases of rehabilitating water and sewer pipes containing asbestos in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, and identified best practice for safe and effective management and removal. The report recommended that a clear, nationally consistent approach to managing asbestos cement water pipes is needed, to cost-effectively manage approximately 40,000 km of water main pipes and 5000 km of sewer pipes containing asbestos cement across Australia.

In response, ASEA developed the draft Asbestos-Cement (AC) Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines, in collaboration with a working group representing industry, union and government officials, which have been released for public consultation. The guidelines provide information about asbestos cement water and sewer pipe removal and remediation methods, and address the issues water agencies should consider when deciding how to manage AC water and sewer pipes.

“The draft Asbestos-Cement (AC) Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines have been developed as a direct consequence of research indicating that there is confusion in the water and sewer services industry about what management practices are permitted under work health and safety laws and environment protection laws when dealing with AC pipes,” Justine Ross, Chief Executive Officer of ASEA, said. “The Draft Guidelines — which are open for public comment and consultation — aim to provide a nationally consistent approach to managing AC pipes. They include guidance on the effectiveness of various removal and remediation methods in eliminating or minimising the risks of asbestos exposure and how to comply with current laws.”

ASEA encourages anyone in the industry who manages or works on AC water and/or sewer pipes to make a submission. “We are especially keen to hear from water agencies and councils with responsibility for managing water and sewer pipes as well as regulators responsible for enforcing laws regarding asbestos safety,” Ross said. “The Agency wants to ensure that the Guidelines clarify confusion that has been encountered by those in the industry when managing AC pipes and reflect the law in a way that is practical and easy to understand.”

Members of the public, industry and government are encouraged to provide feedback, with submissions due by 5 pm on Friday, 7 August 2020. Details on how to make a submission can be found in the Guidelines for Consultation. Any queries about the public consultation can be sent to

Image credit: © Britten

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