Last buildings in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom to be demolished, residents evicted

Last buildings in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom to be demolished, residents evicted

The asbestos-riddled former mining town of Wittenoom is set to remove the remaining properties in an attempt by the Western Australian Government to clear the town site and dissuade visitors.

The town is just 12km away from the former asbestos tailings site, where more than three million tonnes of asbestos remains.

The state’s closed borders have meant an uptick in visitors exploring their own state, and one of the remaining residents said he had “never seen that many people come here, some days you would have 50, 60 cars going out [to the gorge and the asbestos tailings],” he said.

There are three remaining residents of the town, and the government’s plans to evict them and demolish the remaining buildings will come with compensation.

The death toll from Wittenoom, covering both mine workers and local residents, is more than 1,200, mainly due to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Per a database maintained by UWA’s Occupational Respiratory Epidemiology Group, “the Flying Doctors used to hone in on the town of Wittenoom from the blue haze on the horizon and that was the dust…that’s how the workers and the people in the town got exposed, through that dust.

“It has made Western Australia have the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world.”

The town has been degazetted, meaning it is no longer on official maps. The Western Australian Government explained that they have been working with the traditional owners of the land, the Banjima people, to manage the site and how it can best be managed to reduce ongoing impacts.

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