Managing asbestos

Disposing of asbestos waste

Asbestos is hazardous and carcinogenic (a cancer-causing material). It can be very damaging to human health and the environment. It does not break down easily and remains in the environment for a long time.

Hazardous waste

Waste containing more than 0.1 per cent asbestos is classed as hazardous waste, and you must deal with this waste accordingly. You must not mix asbestos waste with other types of waste.

Any waste that contains asbestos, or is contaminated with asbestos, must be double-bagged and placed in a covered, locked skip. This includes overalls, over-shoes, sampling wastes and respiratory protection equipment that have come into contact with asbestos.

If you have any personal protective equipment (PPE) that is contaminated with asbestos, you must dispose of it as asbestos waste or clean it at a suitably equipped facility. If personal clothing becomes contaminated, you must treat it in the same way as contaminated PPE.

If you send equipment away to be cleaned, or to be reused or disposed of, it must be packed in a suitable container and properly labelled. If you have large asbestos sheets you should not break them up. Instead, wrap them in polythene sheeting and label them.

Labelling asbestos items

You must clearly label raw asbestos and asbestos waste with the asbestos warning label. The label must be either firmly stuck to or directly printed onto the item or its packaging.

Licensed contractors who dispose of asbestos-contaminated materials use red, thick plastic sacks with asbestos warnings printed on the outside.

Storing and transporting asbestos waste

You must store and transport raw asbestos and asbestos waste in a sealed container such as a covered, locked skip or, if more appropriate, within sealed wrapping. It must be clearly marked with the asbestos warning label to show that it contains asbestos.

If you transport asbestos waste you must comply with the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations. These include requirements for packaging and documentation - read guidance on transporting asbestos waste.

Asbestos disposal sites

You must check that the site receiving your asbestos waste is authorised to receive asbestos. They should have a waste management licence or pollution prevent and control (PPC) permit - find a public register of waste management licensed sites.

Asbestos waste must be disposed of in a landfill that has a specific permit authorising it to accept asbestos. You may be able to dispose of asbestos waste in a non-hazardous waste landfill, provided it is landfilled within a separate, self-contained cell.

Equipment containing asbestos

You may have old equipment that contains asbestos, such as ovens, insulating mats, fire blankets, oven gloves or ironing surfaces. Asbestos can also be found in some old brake pads and clutch linings of vehicles. When you dispose of this equipment you will need to dispose of it as asbestos waste.

Asbestos-contaminated soil

Asbestos-contaminated soil can be created by mixing clean soil with demolition rubble, through poor housekeeping at industrial sites or through poor waste disposal practices. You must store asbestos waste securely to avoid it spreading and causing contamination.

Soil or other waste material that is contaminated with asbestos, or items containing asbestos, is classed as hazardous waste. You will need to dispose of it as hazardous waste.

Asbestos pipes

Old asbestos cement pipes remain the property of Northern Ireland Water. They should keep records of the location and condition of old asbestos cement pipes.

You should check with Northern Ireland Water before working where old pipes may remain buried. If you or NI Water break into old asbestos cement pipes, the fragments of broken pipe and contaminated soil must be removed and dealt with as hazardous waste.