Queensland Urban Utilities is set to begin replacing 13km of asbestos cement pipes as part of its ongoing water main renewal program.

The pipes will be removed and replaced in 51 separate capital works projects in Brisbane, Ipswich, and Toogoolawah over the next eight months.

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson, Michelle Cull, said stringent Work Health and Safety regulations would be followed to ensure the safety of the public and contractors.

“As these pipes were laid before 1954 and are nearing the end of their service life, they need to be replaced to ensure the reliability of our water network now and into the future,” she said.

“The work will be carried out by licensed asbestos contractors in compliance with the Asbestos Code of Practice.”

“Safe work methods are in place to ensure the safe management, handling and removal of the asbestos cement pipes.”

These safety precautions include:

  • Placing barriers around the work areas while the excavation is undertaken;
  • Wetting down the asbestos cement pipe before it is removed;
  • Wrapping and disposing the removed asbestos cement material in special bins; and
  • Ensuring contractors wear personal protective equipment and signage is in place to let everyone know what is going on.

Asbestos cement pipes are present in water networks throughout Australia and the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

There are no health risks associated with drinking water transported in asbestos cement pipes. Extensive studies have been carried out on the effects of asbestos in drinking water and results have shown no elevated risk of asbestos-related disease. Asbestos fibres are only deemed hazardous if they become airborne and are inhaled.

There will be planned interruptions to water supply during the work but impacted residents will be notified 48 hours in advance. 

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