There are two types of asbestos
- friable asbestos material when dry it can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder in the hand.
- non-friable asbestos material when dry it cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure. It is mixed with cement or other bonding materials and is also known as bonded asbestos.
Non-friable asbestos can become friable asbestos if the asbestos is damaged or old.
What to do if you find asbestos
If your house was built before 1990, it probably has asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos materials in and around the home are often best left alone if they are in good condition and unlikely to get damaged.
To remove any amount of friable asbestos, or more than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos from your home, the asbestos removal contractor that you engage must be licensed.
Visit www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au for more information.
What should I do if I find asbestos in the soil at home?
If you think you’ve found asbestos-containing materials in soil in your garden, take the same precautions as if you’ve found it inside the house. Contact a licensed asbestos assessor.
Be cautious if you accept free fill (soil excavated from one site and used as a base material on another site). It may contain asbestos.
If you accept contaminated waste onto your property, you are responsible for clean-up costs and managing environmental pollution.
Where to dispose of asbestos
You can only dispose of asbestos waste at a landfill that’s licensed to accept it.
Phone first - always contact the landfill in advance to check:
- whether asbestos is accepted
- any requirements for delivery
Some places require 24 hours’ notice. They may also have rules about how you package and deliver the asbestos.
We strongly recommend using a licensed asbestos removalist to remove and dispose of asbestos waste.
Legal requirements for managing household asbestos waste
Packaging and storing asbestos
Asbestos waste means any waste that contains asbestos.
Asbestos waste must be stored on your premises in a manner that does not pose a risk to people or the environment. For more information about how to package asbestos waste, see the factsheets on www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au.
Transporting and disposing of asbestos
As the owner of the waste, you are responsible for ensuring your asbestos waste is disposed of lawfully, even if you pay someone to take it away for you. Make sure your contractor gives you a copy of the disposal receipt.
- Non-friable asbestos material must be securely packaged
- Friable asbestos material must be kept in a sealed container
- Asbestos-contaminated soils must be wetted down
- All asbestos waste must be transported in a part of the vehicle that is covered and leak-proof
- All asbestos waste must be disposed of at a landfill site that can lawfully receive it.
Tracking of asbestos waste
If you have over 100 kilograms or 10 square metres of asbestos waste to dispose of, the person transporting the load to the landfill must create a unique consignment number and report it to the EPA using WasteLocate.
To make sure your asbestos made it to the right place, ask your contractor for the WasteLocate consignment number. Then track your load on to wastelocate.epa.nsw.gov.au.
It is illegal to
- put asbestos waste in your kerbside bins. It is dangerous for Council staff and can contaminate otherwise recyclable waste streams
- put asbestos in an uncovered skip bin or skip bin not approved to hold asbestos
- reuse, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products or asbestos contaminated waste not to comply with the requirements listed above
- fail to comply with the requirements listed above.
How do I report illegal dumping of asbestos
- Call the NSW EPA Environment line on 131 555.
Penalties for breaking the law
Fines of up to $7,500 (individual) and $15,000 (company) apply if you do the wrong thing with asbestos waste. Penalties of up to $1,000,000 apply if the matter is heard in court.
The EPA or local council can also issue clean-up notices and prevention notices which require landowners and/or polluters to address pollution incidents. If you are served with a clean-up notice, you must pay for the cost of cleaning up and safely disposing of the waste.
Who regulates asbestos waste
- The handling and storage of asbestos waste at worksites is regulated by SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover) under the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
- The storage, disposal and transport of asbestos waste is regulated by the EPA or your local council under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014
Homes with loose-fill asbestos
Loose-fill asbestos is raw crushed friable asbestos which was installed as ceiling insulation in some NSW homes in the 1960s and 70s. If you think you may have loose-fill asbestos in your ceiling, do not enter the ceiling space. Contact a licensed asbestos assessor.
If disturbed, asbestos fibres can become airborne and breathed in or ingested, which can cause health risks.
If your house has have loose-fill asbestos insulation in your home, you may be eligible for the NSW Government’s Loose-fill Asbestos Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program and the associated Assistance Package.
Owners of premises can have their property privately tested by a Licensed Asbestos Assessor. In the meantime, avoid entering the ceiling space or drilling into walls.
Visit the NSW Fair Trading website to learn more about loose-fill asbestos insulation and the Program.