Normally in this blog, we talk about asbestos on smaller scale, focusing on individual homes, businesses, and even schools. However, due to a recent accident in New York, we’re going to look at larger systems than attic insulation or popcorn ceilings. Today we’re looking at asbestos in the city infrastructure, areas where asbestos-containing materials can extend for city blocks, if not miles. Let’s go over the recent incident in New York City and the important takeaway for those responsible for city infrastructure.
Example: The 2018 New York City Steam Pipe Explosion
On July 19th, 2018 the Flatiron district of Manhattan woke up to the sight of a burst steam pipe flooding the streets with billowing steam. This wasn’t the first time that the extensive NYC Steam System had ruptured, with an even more notable event in 2007 where a pipe exploded in July rush hour traffic. In both instances, the thick geysers of white smoke were filled with debris – and those debris contained asbestos. This has prompted evacuations of the affected areas as city officials conduct inspection and cleanup, with the city footing the expenses for the work and housing for evacuated residents.
Local Municipalities and Asbestos in Infrastructure
Asbestos is commonly found in aging infrastructure from the days where it was not so widely regulated. As this infrastructure breaks down – or is damaged or even destroyed in accidents or disasters – this asbestos is a large health and legal liability. Commonly, asbestos can be found in the following areas:
- Asbestos in Steam & Water Pipes: For older cities, steam was a method of district heating and due to the high heat, were wrapped in insulator – asbestos being an inexpensive and effective option. The same was true for hot water lines, similar to those in homes.
- Asbestos in Electrical Insulation: Asbestos can be found protecting electrical lines, especially buried ones, either in the electrical wiring itself or in the pipes that carried them.
- Asbestos in Water Lines: Materials like Transite, asbestos-cement piping, can be found in water and sewage pipes for both fireproofing and to improve their strength.
It’s important to monitor and maintain city infrastructure, and as their owners to know what they contain and to deal with it before it’s too late. Proactive work now can save money down the line with evacuations and cleanup. Contact Fiber Control, Inc. to get started with a consultation, from inspection all the way to removal. We’re licensed and insured asbestos contractors for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as dealing with both mold remediation and lead RRP.