Asbestos Regulations in Georgia
If you are dealing with a demolition or renovation project, there is a good chance you have come across asbestos regulations. There is also a good chance you have NEVER heard of asbestos regulations.
The truth is that most contractors have never dealt with asbestos because they have not been educated about the requirements. A variety of federal and state regulations apply to all demolition and renovation activities, including the minimum requirement to inspect for asbestos. If you are not addressing these regulations, you are risking citations and fines.
For the purpose of this article, we are going to set aside the health risks of asbestos and focus solely of the regulatory requirements. Asbestos is regulated on both the federal and state levels. The requirements discussed here are applicable to the State of Georgia.
So let’s dig in. Asbestos regulations are as simple as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5…!
Requirement #1: Inspect for Asbestos
According to the State of Georgia, all owners or operators of a renovation/demolition activity are responsible for performing an inspection for the presence of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM) prior to the renovation/demolition activity.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know what materials contain asbestos simply by looking at them. All materials that have the potential to contain asbestos must be sampled and analyzed by a laboratory.
This inspection should be conducted by an accredited AHERA inspector.
The results of your inspection will show you what asbestos-containing material is in the structure, which of those materials are regulated, and the quantity of each material.
Requirement #2: Notify & Pay the Georgia EPD
This is one of the most misunderstood requirements. All demolition projects are subject to the notification requirements, regardless of the amount of asbestos-containing material present. In addition, all renovation projects involving more than 10 square feet of asbestos-containing material are subject to the notification requirements.
This means that you must notify the EPD prior to demolishing any structure, even if that structure does not contain asbestos.
This also means that you must notify the EPD prior to renovating any structure, if the renovation will disturb more than 10sf of regulated asbestos-containing material.
For the purposes of this requirement, demolition means the removal of any load-bearing structural member of a facility. Renovation means altering a facility component in any way.
Notification can be completed, and applicable fees paid, on the Georgia EPD website. If your project involves the removal of asbestos, your abatement contractor will take care of the notification. If the project does not involve the removal of asbestos, you can complete the notification yourself.
Requirement #3: Wait 10 Days
Both Federal and Georgia law requires you to wait 10 business days after the notification was submitted to begin work. Remember that all demolitions are subject to the notification, and thus the waiting period, even if no asbestos was found.
During this time period, the notification will be reviewed by the Georgia EPD and forwarded to the US EPA.
Requirement #4: Remove Asbestos
The State of Georgia requires all Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material (RACM) to be abated from the building prior to demolition or renovation activities. The abatement must be performed by an abatement contractor licensed in the State of Georgia.
It is important to be aware that OSHA rules kick in here as well, and must be observed in addition to the Georgia EPD rules. For example, the Georgia EPD may allow you to forgo a licensed abatement of a non-regulated asbestos-containing material, but OSHA will still require proper worker protection, work practices, air monitoring, etc.
OSHA requires a minimum of 2 hours asbestos training for small maintenance & custodial activities, up to a 5-day course for work involving high-risk materials.
Requirement #5: Dispose of Asbestos Waste
After asbestos has been removed from the building, all waste must be properly disposed of. Your abatement contractor will handle all disposal as part of the abatement.
However, if the Georgia EPD has allowed you to forgo a licensed abatement of a non-regulated asbestos-containing material, you still must comply with asbestos disposal regulations.
Solid waste rules do not distinguish between regulated and non-regulated material, nor do they distinguish between friable and non-friable. Basically, if there is more than 1%, by weight, of asbestos in the waste, regardless of quantity or condition, it must be disposed of as asbestos-containing waste.
To properly dispose of asbestos-containing waste you must:
- Transport the waste in an enclosed carrying compartment to prevent the release or spillage from the vehicle.
- Do not transport in a vehicle that uses compaction (ie. your neighborhood trash truck).
- Dispose of in an asbestos permitted landfill.
- Seal in a leak-proof container.
- Lable with the following language: “Caution – Contains Asbestos Fibers – Avoid Opening or Breaking Container – Breathing Asbestos is Hazardous to Your Health.”
That’s All I Need To Know?
Not exactly. These requirements provide a framework for what you need to know, and they guide you through the major steps of an asbestos project. There are many more nuances and guidelines that must be followed. There are also additional exemptions throughout the regulations.
While we have focused on legal ramifications in this article, the health impact of asbestos cannot be overstated. Your primary concern should be protecting yourself, your workforce, and your clients.
With the complexity of the regulation, and the serious health risk, asbestos is one of those things that is best left to the pros. It is a rare circumstance where we will recommend a contractor or homeowner handle asbestos on their own. At Branch Environmental, we take the time to understand your specific needs and guide you through every step of the project.
As a disclaimer: this article is being provided as a courtesy to help contractors and building owners better understand requirements surrounding asbestos. This article should not be considered legal guidance. The Georgia EPD should be consulted for authoritative positions on asbestos work, and where there are discrepancies between this article and federal or state regulations, federal or state regulations should be followed.