It is obvious that in the United States, you can find the old water infrastructure which should be repaired. The problem is, it will need more than just money to upgrade it to be a good nation’s water delivery system. This big problem is actually asbestos indeed.
In building the water infrastructure, 200,000 miles of asbestos cement pipe was used because at that time steel was not available in the market. More people were still unaware of asbestos’ hazard in the 1940s, although they have already known the history of health risks caused by asbestos. Moreover, civil engineers still use it because it is strong, durable and readily available composite which really help them supply water to burgeoning suburban areas.
Nowadays, around 15% water that flows all over the U.S. are surmised by the engineers with the concentration that is higher than its portion in the western which is carried by the asbestos cement pipes. It is because the population grows extremely fast in this region. When being installed, asbestos cement pipe has a quite long lifespan, around 50 until 80 years, moreover many of its product can reach the maximum lives. However, to replace them is not a simple matter.
Asbestos cement pipe’s use and replacement are vague at regulations. Many cases that happen cannot accommodate the existing mains and the latest data cannot answer the problems scientifically.
Lack of guidelines
The prevailing authority for the way to handle dangerous compounds which potentially happened is already considered by the EPA. However, the EPA doesn’t offer any guidance to replace and dispose asbestos cement pipe, for it is an essential goods for water distribution. They leave their responsibility instead. So it becomes under the government’s deal. The one who is responsible to check the regulations during the project are being designed is the engineer.
At the local level, the issue dealing with it is that each state may have different regulations and even there are various regulatory agencies for every state. For instance, in California we can find 19 different agencies with a stake to decide the way to handle asbestos cement pipe. Those agencies have their own opinion and attach different level of stringency. In Montana, asbestos cement pipe and associated debris must be removed all. If there are contractors or municipalities who don’t obey the regulation, they will get the consequence of huge fines and/or project delays.
To rehibilitate the older asbestos cement pipe, pipe bursting method can be done. The asbestos cement pipes may be broken when they are still underground. The reasons is the widened cavity so it allows the new pipe to pull into place. Some states take the regulations of EPA is to ban pipe bursting, otherwise the others take it as a way for contractors to get licesed in proper asbestos handling before they are able to remove the asbestos cement pipes.