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Prevent Pollution from Lead and Asbestos during Demolition or Abatement

Guide
If not treated properly, asbestos abatement and structural demolition activities could discharge pollutants like asbestos and lead paint particulates to the city’s sewer system that jeopardize public health. Learn more about City requirements for businesses that conduct these activities.
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The City’s Role

The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to regulate industries that discharge wastewater or stormwater to city sewers. Environmental Services sets the pollutant limits and regulates industries to protect Portland’s system and our watersheds.

Businesses that conduct asbestos abatement and structural demolition activities have the potential to discharge asbestos and lead paint particulates as well as other pollutants that, if not treated properly, may jeopardize public health and the environment.

Rules and Regulations

Portland City Code 17.39 prohibits discharges from asbestos abatement and demolition activities into the stormwater system. Discharges may result in investigations, issuance of penalties, and required corrective actions.

Portland City Code 17.32 prohibits directing water from any source to run onto a City sidewalk, street, easement, or right-of-way without first obtaining authorization or approval.

Portland City Code 17.34 requires approval to discharge to the sanitary sewer system. To ensure wastewater discharged to the sanitary sewer from deconstruction activities is properly managed, companies are required to obtain authorization from Environmental Services prior to initiating discharges. Companies are also required to submit a best management practice certification annually.

Pollutants of Concern

Lead

Lead from the demolition of structures with lead-containing paints or that were constructed prior to 1978 is prohibited from being discharged to the stormwater system and cannot be discharged to the sanitary sewer above the City limit. City lead limits along with other pollutant limits are established in the Sanitary Discharge and Pretreatment Administrative Rule

Asbestos

Asbestos from abatement activities is prohibited from being discharged to the stormwater system, and wastewater containing asbestos cannot be discharged to the sanitary sewer system without implementing Environmental Services-approved best management practices to remove asbestos from the wastewater.

Mitigation Strategies

Stormwater

Stormwater from demolition sites or asbestos abatement sites cannot be discharged to a stormwater system or be allowed to drain offsite. Erosion and sediment controls detailed in Portland City Code Title 10 must be implemented to control stormwater at these sites.

Wastewater

Wastewater from demolition or asbestos abatement sites may be generated by the following:

  • Pooled or entrained stormwater. 
  • Wetting/misting operations for dust control.
  • Decontamination of abatement personnel or equipment.

To remove lead paint dust and asbestos fibers from wastewater, companies should first allow larger solids to settle from the wastewater. Next, the contaminated water must pass through a 5-micron nominally rated filtration system prior to discharging the water to the sanitary sewer system. Allowing larger solids to first settle may extend the life of the 5-micron filter.

Settled solids and used filters must be disposed of in accordance with local, state, and federal solid waste disposal laws.

Permits

Building Permits

Structural demolition requires a building permit issued from the Bureau of Development Services.

Wastewater Permits

Discharging wastewater from demolition or asbestos abatement activities to the sanitary or combined sewer requires a City-issued authorization. The type of authorization depends upon the type of building.

Residential

Any company that will discharge wastewater generated from asbestos abatement or demolition as defined in Portland City Code (PCC) Chapter 24.55.150 to the City’s sanitary or combined sewer must first obtain a City-issued Alternative Discharge Control Mechanism. Once initial authorization is received, companies must certify compliance annually.

Commercial

Authorization to discharge wastewater generated from commercial asbestos abatement or demolition activities are addressed by the City on a case-by-case basis. Companies should contact batchdischarge@portlandoregon.gov for information.

How to Apply for Discharge Authorization

Any company that will discharge wastewater generated from asbestos abatement or demolition to the City’s sanitary or combined sewer must obtain a City-issued Alternative Discharge Control Mechanism, by submitting a Residential Asbestos Abatement and Demolition Wastewater Discharge Authorization Application.

Apply for Discharge Authorization