Western Australia’s Parliament has had a Bill introduced to finalise the closure of the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom.
Tony Buti, Lands Minister, has reinstated the Wittenoom Closure Bill, which would see the government compulsorily acquire 14 privately-owned properties in the former town.
The Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area covers 46,500 hectares, including the former town. The entire area is classified as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act of 2003.
While the town was formally degazetted in 2007, and the state has acquired most of the private properties held in the area, there are three remaining property owners.
Once the Bill is passed and those three properties have been acquired, all the remaining infrastructure will be removed. The plan is to limit the attraction for people to visit the area.
The McGowan Government has made reintroducing the Bill a priority to enable the closure to be finalised.
The site is so contaminated that it will never be safe for habitation again, and is closed to the public for health reasons.
Lands Minister Tonu Buti explained that it “has been more than 100 years since blue asbestos was first identified in the Hamersley Ranges, and more than 80 years since mining commenced in Wittenoom.
“What followed was one of Australia’s worst industrial disasters that led to thousands of deaths and classification of the area as the largest contaminated site in the southern hemisphere.
“The Wittenoom Closure Bill is a significant step forward to resolve this longstanding industrial tragedy, protect public health and put an end to a dark period in our State’s mine closure history.”