Australia - 2005
Asbestos Removal Technique Increases Protection, Reduces
Working collaboratively with Deakin University, Alcoa’s
Anglesea power station in Australia has developed a technique that increases the
protection and comfort of people working to remove asbestos in the facility
while also reducing costs and accelerating the rate of removal by almost
Removal of asbestos from industrial and domestic applications
requires great care to prevent loose asbestos fibers from entering the
environment and creating risk to human health. This typically requires
people removing asbestos to be outfitted in sealed suits and equipped with a
filtered air supply. Given the confined nature of many industrial
locations, this can be hot and uncomfortable work and can slow the pace at which
asbestos can be removed and replaced with safer alternative insulation
Anglesea was built in 1969 when asbestos was commonly
used as a primary insulating material in boilers and ductwork.
Approximately 15% of the asbestos was removed in various areas of the plant by
2001, but the removal process required the areas be shut down. This “offline”
technique prolonged the time required to complete the work and proved to be
extremely expensive due to outage costs and interference with essential
maintenance operations during the shutdown periods.
techniques to contain and remove the asbestos during the continuation of normal
operations required suited crews to work within bubbles of plastic sheeting with
negative air. This early “online” technique did little to prevent the
working environment from becoming uncomfortably hot. In addition, heat
build-up in the enclosed work area weakened the plastic bubble film so only
low-temperature sections or very small high-temperature areas of the plant could
be addressed at any one time.
Anglesea worked with Deakin
University to review the process and conduct research on thermal modeling and
risk assessment. The team developed a technique to supply chilled air to
the work bubble and use water-cooled reflective suits for removal crews.
Following a monitoring trial for heat stress, the technique became
the standard method for asbestos removal at Anglesea. Benefits
Ability to remove asbestos in areas with metal-surface temperatures of
160 to 230 degrees Celsius (320 to 446 degrees Fahrenheit), an accomplishment
not previously possible.
Reduction in the internal plastic sheeting bubble temperature from 60 to
30 degrees Celsius (140 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Less heat strain and lower asbestos contamination inside the
Greater productivity due to greater comfort of work crews.
Reduced costs due to elimination of need to remove asbestos during
Faster, more efficient method of removing asbestos. Using the new
technique, Anglesea will remove the remaining asbestos in three years versus
the estimated 25 years required under the old offline method.
In 2004, Anglesea received an Alcoa EHS Achievement Award for its work in