Pipebursting AC Pipe Problematic, Says EPA

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | October 2009 Vol. 64 No. 10

Von Aspern said the advisory clearly states pipebursting and pipe reaming have been determined by EPA to make AC pipe friable [easily broken] and that pipe pieces contain regulated asbestos material. Further, the advisory states that because the pipe reaming process does not completely remove the pipe and the bursting process leaves all the material in place, both methods of construction have been determined by the EPA to create an active asbestos waste disposal site.

Where is the industry today regarding regulations for removal of AC pipe?

Von Aspern said that key EPA staff members have surveyed the industry to learn about pipebursting, pipe reaming and AC pipe in order to gain an in depth understanding of the rehabilitation techniques. This is supposed to determine the extent to which pipebursting or pipe reaming of AC pipes constitute a threat to public health. They are evaluating existing restrictions to determine whether modifications or clarifications of the applications of NESHAP requirements are needed.

"Currently," he said, "the EPA has expressed a preference for pipe reaming over pipebursting because reaming can remove a portion of the asbestos pipe fragments through the downstream receiving pit.

"The goal is to modify the AC pipe regulations to specifically address the public health impact of replacement by pipebursting or pipe reaming. In the meantime, the EPA and local air quality boards are aggressively enforcing current restrictions."

Industry aid
There are a number of things that members of the industry can do to help, Von Aspen believes.

"First of all,” he said, “be aware of the regulations in your specific area regarding pipebursting and pipe reaming of AC pipe and follow the regulations.

"Second, investigations are needed to determine the state of broken pipe fragments after pipebursting, and to quantify the percentage of AC pipe recovered during pipe reaming.

"Third, support research into development of consolidating lubricants that may be used to form a conglomerated material encapsulating the pipe fragments and reducing potential health risks.

"And fourth, contact the entity responsible for regulating asbestos in your area and express your concerns regarding the impacts that restrictions on pipebursting and pipe reaming of AC pipe will have on your ability to provide safe, reliable and cost efficient water and wastewater services.”

Kent Von Aspern, HDR Inc., (925) 974 2516, Kent.aspern@hdrinc.com

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