Demolition process


The approach for each affected property is carefully planned. Safety is the main priority for the workers on site, neighbours and the community.

Planning and assessment

Each property is different in its design, location, landscaping and proximity to other affected properties. Properties may be heritage listed, partially renovated, in a state of disrepair, located in bushfire zones, part of a unit complex or share a wall.

The Taskforce undertakes detailed scoping to understand these complexities before a property is scheduled for demolition. This work is used to prepare the demolition pack, which is provided to the selected Head Contractor.

Licensed asbestos assessors undertake work to inform the methodology used to safely manage all forms of asbestos in the property, and contractors may prepare temporary management plans and erosion control plans for the site.

All necessary documentation is submitted to WorkSafe ACT.

Site set up

Before work begins, fencing is erected around the property and fence wrap installed.

Site signage on the fence provides information on when the asbestos removal is expected to start, when demolition is scheduled to begin, and the contractor's contact details.

Sample of site signage showing fields for expected start of asbestos removal date, demolition date and contractor contact details.
Sample of site signage

Site preparation works are then undertaken. This can include a range of activities such as:

  • installing equipment
  • trimming trees
  • creating access pathways
  • removing fixtures and furniture as identified and approved by an independent licensed asbestos assessor

Staying informed

Neighbours within a two-house range of an affected property will receive a letter and demolition information pack before work begins.

Contractors will discuss the upcoming demolition activity with immediate neighbours. It is important to note that timing of a demolition is influenced by a range of variables, including weather, staff and equipment availability, and demolition complexity.

The best way to stay informed is to refer to the site signage. This is regularly updated by the contractor and shows the expected asbestos removal date and anticipated demolition date.

Internal asbestos removal

The internal asbestos removal process involves creating a negative air environment to ensure that no fibres escape during the removal works.

The first step in this process is to seal the house, which can be done by either:

  • placing plastic sheeting on the roof and sealing all windows and vents or
  • using shrink wrap to encapsulate the entire house

Once the houses are sealed, negative air pressure units are placed in windows and doors. These units generally operate for about five days during the asbestos removal stage.

Air monitors are installed on perimeter fences prior to asbestos removal works commencing. They remain in place until the completion of structural demolition.

Under negative air conditions the house is deconstructed internally. Ceilings and walls are pulled away to expose the cavities where loose fill asbestos fibres have settled.

Asbestos fibres are then vacuumed and sealed in heavy duty plastic bags. The bags are processed through a decontamination unit and transported to a special asbestos disposal site at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre.

The remaining internal structure of the house is then coated with a coloured PVA glue or paint to bind any residual fibres to the structure prior to demolition.

Contractors remove any non-friable or bonded asbestos prior to structural demolition. This does not need to happen under negative air conditions but must be carried out with appropriate controls in place, including the use of protective equipment.

The house is demolished only when a clearance certificate for both friable and non-friable asbestos removal has been issued by an independent licensed asbestos assessor.

Structural demolition

Demolition of the structure generally only takes a couple of hours.

The day of the demolition will be the noisiest part of the work as excavators pull the house down and rubble is loaded into trucks.

Just like any house demolition there may be some minor traffic impacts in local streets as equipment is moved to and from the site. Traffic management plans are put in place where necessary to ensure the safety of the public.

During demolition, water is sprayed onto the structure and rubble to suppress dust. This spray can look like dust but is actually a misty cloud of fine water droplets.

Disposal

Disposal activities are undertaken by experienced demolition contractors under strict transport and handing protocols – safety is the priority for the community and contractors. A waste management plan is prepared for each house and block. This includes estimating potential capacity needed at the disposal site to take the soil, waste and rubble of a demolished house.

Strict regulations are in place for the disposal of loose fill asbestos insulation. Any asbestos fibres vacuumed or otherwise removed from houses are sealed in heavy duty plastic bags. Bonded asbestos sheets are wrapped in plastic before disposal. The bags are processed through an onsite decontamination unit, transported and buried at a site dedicated to asbestos disposal at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre.

Soil and rubble from the demolition of affected houses is disposed of at a Resource Management Centre in the ACT. Waste is carefully consolidated and covered, then transported in trucks on designated roads directly to the asbestos tip site where it is covered by soil.

Workers at the tip site are protected within air-conditioned machinery and/or wear appropriate protective clothing during disposal of waste. The disposal site is checked daily and regular air monitoring is carried out to test for the presence of asbestos fibres.

Traffic management controls are put in place to minimise disruption to surrounding residents and road users during transport of demolition waste.

Site wrap up

Once rubble has been cleared, a layer of soil is removed from the demolition site. Samples of this soil are sent for testing. If asbestos fibres are found, further soil is removed and additional testing is carried out.

This process, which may take several weeks, continues until all samples are clear. When the site has been cleared, contractors will remove equipment and fencing.

The soil clearance report, along with the demolition certificate and the asbestos clearance certificate, are then provided to the Taskforce to consider for deregistration of the property.

Sample of a Certificate of Completion of Demolition
Sample certificate of completion

Removal of unapproved structures

From time to time, contractors will need to return to remediated blocks in order to remove unapproved structures prior to the block being sold. Unapproved structures or those that are unable to be approved (such as those in easements) may include:

  • large garden sheds
  • carports
  • swimming pools

It is important to note that these structures have not been affected by Mr Fluffy and are not being removed because of asbestos contamination.

Unapproved retaining walls may be retained if the structural integrity of the remediated block or an adjoining property would be compromised by their removal. If this is the case, the nature and status of those retained structures will be an explicit term in the Contract for Sale for the remediated block.

Approved structures will not be removed from remediated blocks unless this is necessary as part of the demolition access requirements.

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