Money Needed to Replace WA Asbestos-Contaminated Pipes

Startup, WA – The city of Startup requires nearly $6 million to replace its asbestos-containing water pipes, said city officials. The water piping system is about 60 years old and is crumbling across the district. Startup city water commissioner Kate Roesler said that the pipes are so old and damages that they have actually become soft. ”You could put your thumb through the pipes,” said Roesler.
The current piping system is made from asbestos concrete, as were most water pipes when the Startup system was installed. Unfortunately, asbestos is a well-known carcinogen and can possibly cause deadly diseases such as pleural mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer if a person is exposed to it. Exposure, when it comes to asbestos, usually takes the form of inhalation, but people can also ingest or swallow the asbestos fibers. That’s the fear with the Startup water district. “We’re about halfway to where they consider it dangerous,” said Roesler, referring to the guidelines concerning swallowing of asbestos-contaminated water. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which is fibrous in nature. When those fibers are ingested or swallowed, they can lodge themselves in the body’s soft tissues. Particularly vulnerable are the lungs and the mesothelium, which is a soft tissue that encases the lungs, heart, and stomach. Once inhaled or ingested, the microscopic fibers are inescapable and cannot be breathed out or otherwise cleansed from the body. Repeated exposure to asbestos is especially hazardous, but there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. One of the most insidious aspects of asbestos is that the diseases resulting from it may not show up symptomatically until years, or even decades, after the initial exposure. Sometimes called “the silent killer” because it remains latent in the body for so long, by the time the mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are diagnosed, they are incurable. The Startup water district will receive a $1 million loan from the USDA, which will fund the replacement of the main trunk line of the water piping system. This still leaves the district short $5 million to replace the rest of the piping, however. It is estimated that the water district is losing half its well water to leaks and seepage due to the crumbling and broken pipes. Roesler hopes the city will eventually receive some funds from the United States stimulus package, or from other federal or state sources, to repair the water system.