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We are in high rise flats with 16 floors. For the next year we will be around a workforce, including an asbestos removal team who will be removing waste pipes. One flat on each floor has to be moved out for 5 weeks, but we are still being relocated in the actual flats them selves. We can move back in after this, and then the next lot of residents are moved out etc. etc. Questions are being asked to all parties with no specific answers given, about the level of asbestos and why we are not even allowed in our homes during this time. Our keys are taken from us. Should we be concerned?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Steven, HerrBag, Chris Cudmore, Tester101 Jul 29 '13 at 15:32

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Actually, this question isn't really a good fit for diy. – Matt Jul 17 '13 at 20:11
concerned about the asbestos or concerned about how your landlords are answering your questions? – DA01 Jul 17 '13 at 20:36
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about professional renovations in a high density residential building. I.E. NOT DIY – Chris Cudmore Jul 19 '13 at 12:26

Not something that is easily answered.

First -- A question of whether "proper" asbestos abatement is unsafe -- not to me. There are a significant number of precautions required by law for abatement of large areas (in the U.S), including negative air pressure, air filtration, wetting of surfaces, disposal methods, testing, and so on.

More than likely, they are replacing the soil stack (Asbestos Cement) -- the primary waste line running down the building moving each floor's waste to the one below (and so on until it reaches a main sewer connection). This is likely the reason that one flat has to be moved out, and it is likely that each of those flats are directly above/below the others, so that there is access from top to bottom to the line.

If I were to make a guess about all this, it would be that:

  • There are enough empty flats for a single floor to be relocated within the building,
  • Those required to move out of the building for 5 weeks is due to the flat being along the vertical stack (Asbestos Cement Pipe) that is being replaced and where the workers need access,
  • They are required to move because the abatement process often requires that the room be completely sealed and have negative pressure during the process for containment,
  • That they will replace the stack on one floor at a time, possibly starting at the top and creating temporary bypasses while each floor's section of pipe is removed and replaced,
  • That requiring all flats on that floor to move serves two purposes: 1) To prevent any accidental exposure from people wandering around a work area, and 2) The heating and air conditioning system for that floor will most likely be disabled during the abatement,
  • That once a floor's section of pipe has been replaced, residents would be allowed to return to their flat.
  • That the reason for taking the keys is to prevent people from returning to their flats "real quick" while disregarding the requirement that they stay out.

Then again -- that is all speculation. As to your last statement, I don't understand the "Questions are being asked to all parties with no specific answers given, about the level of asbestos and why we are not even allowed in our homes during this time." I have to assume that you mean the residents are asking questions of the contractors/owners/management.

If that is correct, I suspect that their non-responsiveness has to do with the fact that, typically, only a General Contractor deals with the customer and the individual contractors handle the work. Unfortunately, the building owner/management is the "customer", not you, so there is no real obligation for the contractor to provide you any information. Really, the building owner/management should be asking your questions and relaying answers. In addition, some questions may not be answered, simply because people often lack the capacity to understand that high asbestos levels in a sealed remediation environment doesn't mean that any unsafe conditions will remain after the work is completed or that other areas will be unsafe/affected.

Unfortunately, the problem is that while people claim that they want to be informed, they often just use that information to be panicked or incite panic -- it is easier for Contractor's/Building Owners or Management/Workers to simply not answer questions that don't NEED or aren't REQUIRED to be answered.

Applicable laws will determine what rights to information/protection you have. Alternatively, you can research local/national laws regarding public access to construction permitting and/or asbestos abatement permitting, and to get the information from the appropriate overseeing authority, IF it is public information.

Otherwise, all I can say is, moving is always an option.

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It should be fine. Asbestos dust containment should be localised to the flats they are working on (hopefully). I put hopefully in brackets there because, it assumes they follow proper procedure.

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