EPA Retesting New Asbestos Removal Technique

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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intention to conduct a second test of asbestos removal Saturday at Fort Chaffee, using a newly-developed alternative method for abatement.

According to an article in the Arkansas Times-Record, this test and the ones previously conducted could result in the approval of a method that would “result in significant cost-reductions for asbestos removal around the country.

The first test, conducted in April 2006, involved two buildings at Fort Chaffee on which two different abatement methods were used: the current National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) method on one building and the new Alternative Asbestos Control Method (AACM) on another.

When test results were released, the figures showed the AACM process cut costs by half, was five times faster, and also decreased hazardous risks to workers.

With the new process, no material is removed from the structure, explains the article. Instead, amended water a sort of chemical foam much like dish washing detergent – is mixed in with water from a hydrant and sprayed outside and inside the structure.

The next day, the building is demolished while, at the same time, being sprayed with the amended water. About 3 inches of topsoil, along with the demolished structure, is then taken to a designated landfill that accepts asbestos-containing material.

David Gray, director of the EPA’s office of external affairs in Dallas, said that the completion of a second test to determine what other asbestos-containing materials can be removed safely using the process is key to getting the new method included in the EPA regulations.

The second test will involve transite materials, says Gray, such as asbestos-containing shingles and siding. The EPA will also erect a white plastic sheet behind the structure to find if it can block some of the debris from reaching buildings that could be near demolition sites, such as in a residential area.