Transite Pipe (Asbestos) – Can I Line It?

“I have a customer that has transite pipe. She told me there is asbestos in it and wonders if I’m authorized to dig it up and dispose of it , pipe burst it, or if I can just line over it with lateral lining materials? I told her I didn’t know and would check. Can I line it? If I dig it up, I know I’ll need an asbestos abatement contractor and it will really drive up her costs.”

The short answer is yes you can line it, you can dig it up and dispose of it, but probably not pipe burst it, but let’s get the details why it can be lined and what the rules are about the issue. There is no mandate to dig up and replace any asbestos pipe or any pipe for that matter. If you have sewer pipe that is usable, you can continue to use it. You can continue to operate and maintain your pipe without regard to disposing of it. If you decide that the pipe is deteriorated enough for a more permanent repair, lining is certainly an option as it digging it up and replacing it. Here’s the current regulation regarding remediation of transit pipe:

REGULATIONS FOR AC PIPE

In most states, public agencies are not required to remove and replace AC pipe. Studies have indicated that, in normal use, AC pipe does not pose a threat to public health; however, certain activities—including tapping, cutting, crushing/removing, and disposing—are regulated.

Contrary to common belief, in many states specially licensed contractors are not required when working with AC pipe. Many states have developed programs to train individual employees in safe practices involving the regulated AC pipe practices. These training programs provide an employer exemption for registration requirements. In addition, guidelines have been established for licensing of course providers in order to extend the available training resources while maintaining consistency in content and message.

The EPA has addressed replacement of AC pipe using the pipe bursting method. In a letter issued July 17, 1991, the EPA stated its position that “the crushing of asbestos cement pipe with mechanical equipment would cause this material to become ‘regulated asbestos containing material’ (RACM)” and “. . . the crushed asbestos cement pipe in place would cause these locations to be considered active waste disposal sites and therefore, subject to the requirements of §61.154 (NESHAP).” Furthermore, in this same letter, the EPA goes on to advise that “In order to avoid the creation of a waste disposal site which is subject to the Asbestos NESHAP, the owners or operators of the pipe may want to consider other options for dealing with the abandoned pipe.” Since the EPA’s letter did not specifically identify pipe bursting, interpretation of the intent was inconsistent throughout the industry.

Since you won’t be opening up the pipe and exposing it to the atmosphere, there isn’t any need to employ an asbestos mitigation contractor to help in the lining process. The regulations regarding pipe bursting are a little less clear.

“So what are my options?” 

If you are going to cut, disturb, disassemble or in any way expose the pipe, you will need to follow the guidelines established for this material. There are other ways to keep you from going there. If a cleanout is available, it is quite possible you could line through the cleanout, leaving the transite pipe unexposed. If you intercept a section of cast iron inside the building, you could line the pipe from the cast. If the only option is to intercept the transite pipe, paying a remediation contractor or having one of your employees trained in proper handling of asbestos by a certified trainer the disposal of a single section of asbestos pipe is much less than the whole pipe. You may want to use caution if you are considering pipe bursting as you will be creating an active waste disposal site that may violate state and local codes.

 

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