Communication and engagement
The demolition of an affected house will have an impact on the neighbours of affected properties, so every effort is made to keep neighbours informed about the asbestos removal and demolition process.
Neighbours within a two house range of an affected property will receive a letter and demolition information pack from the Taskforce before work begins. Contractors will doorknock immediate neighbours to discuss the upcoming demolition activity. The Taskforce will also doorknock neighbours in areas where there is a cluster of affected properties.
It is important to note that the timing of a demolition is influenced by a range of variables, including weather, contractor availability, and demolition complexity. The best way to stay up-to-date is to refer to the onsite signage that provides details of when asbestos removal is expected to start, when demolition is scheduled to begin and who to contact for more information.
During site setup, a fence goes up around the site and fence wrap is installed. Other activities may include tree trimming and creating access pathways.
The house is sealed either by placing plastic sheeting on the roof and sealing all windows and vents, or by using shrink wrap to encapsulate the entire house.
Decontamination units are installed along with negative air pressure units to create a safe sealed environment to enable internal asbestos removal. Depending on their proximity, neighbours may hear the sound of the negative air pressure units which will operate 24/7 for up to a week and sound similar to an air conditioning unit or pool pump.
Before the structure is demolished, all loose fill and bonded asbestos has been removed and the inside of the house is sprayed with coloured PVA glue to seal any remaining fibres to the structure.
Air monitoring and dust suppression equipment is installed and heavy equipment brought to the site ready for demolition.
Contractors prepare extensive plans prior to demolition to ensure adherence to strict safety conditions. The house is demolished only when a clearance certificate has been issued by an independent licensed asbestos assessor. Demolitions undertaken by the ACT Government are regulated by Worksafe ACT.
The demolition process for each house, from planning and assessment through to site wrap up, usually takes around six weeks, depending on weather. Demolition of the structure itself only takes about two hours.
Initially neighbours may hear power tools as fixtures such as down pipes and awnings are removed from the property.
On the day of demolition neighbours will hear the sound of heavy machinery undertaking structural demolition and trucks transporting rubble from the site. There may be some traffic disruption as equipment moves to and from the site.
The site will remain fenced until the soil has been tested and cleared. This process, which may take a number of weeks, continues until all soil samples are clear.
From time to time, contractors may need to return to remediated blocks to undertake removal of unapproved structures (such as some garden sheds, carports and swimming pools) prior to the block being sold. It is important to note that these structures are not removed because of asbestos contamination.
- The Taskforce encourages neighbours to complete the neighbour survey to report any issues of concern and to provide follow up assistance if needed.
- Report concerns about workplace safety to WorkSafe ACT.
- Neighbours with concerns about a vacant property can tell the Taskforce about a house online or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
- Concerns about property entry or trespass should be reported to ACT Policing on the non-urgent crime number 131 444.
- Dumping or vandalism should be reported to Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
- If the matter is an emergency call 000.