Asbestos is comprised of several minerals that were commonly used in building products in Australia between 1940 and 1987 due to their resistance to high temperature and fire. The link between being exposed to asbestos fibres and the risk of developing several types of cancers led to a national ban which came into effect in 2003. Asbestos poses a health risk when the fibres are released into the air and inhaled. Due to the health risk associated with this material it is classed as a regulated waste and has statutory requirements when transporting for disposal.
Asbestos can be categorised into two broad types – bonded (or non-friable) and friable.
Bonded asbestos refers to asbestos that has been bonded to another material such as cement or resin binder and was typically used for things like fibro, corrugated or compressed AC sheeting, pipes and floor tiles. While intact, bonded asbestos poses little risk, however, renovations, weather conditions and general wear and tear can damage the bonded asbestos, releasing hazardous fibres.
Friable asbestos can be crumbled by hand and the fibres easily released into the air. Friable asbestos was widely used for fireproofing, sound proofing and insulation since the 1800’s but may still be found in houses built before 1990.
It is important to remember that it is often difficult to differentiate asbestos containing material (ACM) from non-asbestos containing material. To remove any doubt, get a sample tested for asbestos.
If you are planning to conduct a minor renovation including drilling in asbestos sheeting in your home, please ensure you follow the safe work procedures information in the Asbestos A guide for minor renovation.
Removal of Asbestos
Under the Public Health Act 2005 a person cannot remove friable asbestos containing material (ACM) and must engage a licensed class A asbestos removalist to undertake the removal. If the ACM is bonded a person can remove up to 10m2 but it is still recommended that a licensed asbestos removalist undertakes the works.
View further information on disposal of less than 10m2 of non-bonded asbestos on Government supplied Safety information document.
Preparing Asbestos for Disposal
To limit asbestos fibres becoming airborne it is crucial that ACM is not broken into smaller pieces and is packaged appropriately. ACM is required to be double wrapped in 0.2mm thick plastic sheeting or bags, sealed with tape and labelled. The label should identify that the packaging contains asbestos and damage to the packaging and dust inhalation should be avoided.
- Caution – ASBESTOS
- Do not damage or open bag
- Do not inhale dust
- Cancer and lung disease hazard
Please ensure you follow the comprehensive asbestos information and resources at Queensland Government website.
Transport of Asbestos
As asbestos is a regulated waste it is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins or illegally dump asbestos containing materials. Different approvals under the Environmental Protection Act and Regulation apply to domestic and commercial clients depending on how much asbestos waste is being transported. If you are transporting under 175kg of ACM in a vehicle on a non-commercial basis an Environmental Authority is not required. Even though an Environmental Authority is not required, Council recommends engaging a commercial contractor to transport and dispose the ACM waste for you. If you are transporting over 175kg of ACM on a non-commercial basis or any weight of ACM on a commercial basis then an Environmental Authority is required.
Disposal of Asbestos
Within the Whitsunday Regional Council, the Kelsey Creek landfill and the Bowen Landfill are the sites that accept asbestos waste. You are required to give the landfill 24hrs notice of the intended disposal. You must ensure that the ACM waste is packaged and labelled correctly and that there are no rips or tears in the plastic. Council’s landfills will not accept a lined skip and does not allow for asbestos to be tipped from a vehicle. If required waste tracking certificates must be supplied to the landfill staff and Council. Disposal fees are available from Council’s Fees and Charges. Higher fees apply for asbestos from outside the Whitsunday Region.
Report Asbestos Illegal Dumping
If you witness someone illegally dumping ACM, please report it to Council’s Environmental Health Unit on 1300 972 753 as soon as possible and with as much information as possible.