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The cost of dealing with 40,000 kilometres of water main pipes containing asbestos across Australia is expected to significantly rise, according to Master Plumbers CEO Peter Daly.
Mr Daly said it was time for a national approach to managing asbestos in water mains. “Every year we wait ensures the costs of addressing the deterioration increases,” he said.
The call comes after the release of a new report by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. The report examines six cases of rehabilitation of water and sewerage pipes containing asbestos in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, and identifies best practice for safe and effective management and removal.
The issue is most significant for Victoria, with around 70 per cent of the country’s asbestos containing water main pipes located within the state
Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Peter Tighe said: “Around one quarter of Australia’s water main pipes as well as 5000 kilometres of sewer mains contain deteriorating asbestos.”
“While there is no evidence that asbestos in cement pipes is a danger to drinking water, planning for the long-term management of asbestos is important for community safety.
Mr Tighe said the cost of rehabilitation of asbestos water pipes is about $400 million nationally.
“This cost is expected to rise significantly as the infrastructure ages, and this has implications for water consumers.” Currently there are no nationally consistent regulations around asbestos pipeline programs.
“Water authorities and governments around the country are encouraged to follow the findings of this report to ensure that planning is in place, and that best practice in removal of legacy asbestos from water mains is followed,” Mr Tighe said.
The agency recommends governments, water authorities and the industry all work toward the development of a clear set of nationally consistent regulations around practices to remove asbestos from water mains.