Increasingly we are being asked to advise on dealing with asbestos contaminated soils on brownfield sites. Legacy asbestos products from demolished buildings can be found buried on the majority of old industrial sites. These materials can include lagging, coatings, asbestos insulating boards, asbestos cement products, floor tiles and bitumen products, or free asbestos fibres distributed through the soil.

During earthworks, the nature of risks from asbestos in soils to site operatives and the general public is different to that posed to the site end users. The risks of exposure are greater as the soil is being disturbed whilst being excavated and transported around the site.
The 2016 ‘CAR-SOIL’ document, produced by CL:AIRE and the Asbestos in Soil and C&D Materials Joint Industry Working Group, provides guidance on applying the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to projects involving asbestos in soil.

Risk assessments will need to consider:

• What is the nature of the asbestos, what are the exposure pathways, and who is potentially at risk?
• Is the work classed as licensed work or non-licensed work?
• What type of training do operatives require?
• What PPE/RPE will be appropriate?
• What control measures need to be considered?
• Decontamination of operatives and site plant.
• What are the waste disposal options?
• Does the site require reassurance air monitoring? This may take place close to the work activities, or at the site boundary to ensure that neighbours aren’t impacted

To protect future site users further risk assessments should be undertaken following Asbestos in soil and made ground: a guide to understanding and managing risks (CIRIA C733).

• Asbestos in soils will only present a risk if there is potential for asbestos fibres to be released from the soil and subsequently inhaled by site users. The simplest remediation may be to break the exposure pathway by siting a building or car-parking over the contaminated area.

Allium’s asbestos consultants would be pleased to discuss your particular requirements and advise on a safe, cost effective solution to asbestos contamination in the ground.