Final closure of Wittenoom nears as Bill returns to Parliament

  • Wittenoom Closure Bill reintroduced to Western Australian Parliament
  • Bill provides for compulsory acquisition of remaining private properties
  • Legislation paves way for demolition of remaining structures to begin 
  • A Bill to finalise the closure of the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom has been reintroduced to State Parliament.

    Lands Minister Tony Buti has reinstated the Wittenoom Closure Bill to enable the compulsory acquisition of 14 remaining privately-owned properties in the former townsite.

    The Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area covers more than 46,500 hectares and includes the former townsite, Wittenoom Gorge and Joffre Floodplain. The area is classified as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.

    Wittenoom was formally delisted as a town in 2007 and the State has since successfully acquired most of the private properties through voluntary acquisition.

    Once the Bill is passed, and the final properties have been acquired from the three remaining owners, all remaining infrastructure within the former townsite will be removed to limit the attraction for people to visit and stay in the area.

    The Bill was previously passed by the Legislative Assembly during the last Parliament but could not be progressed through the Legislative Council ahead of the 2021 State Election. On returning to office, the McGowan Government has made reintroducing the legislation a top priority to enable the closure of the townsite to be finalised.

    Wittenoom will never be safe for human habitation and is a closed site for public health reasons. More information and advice to visitors in the region is available online at https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/wittenoom

    As stated by Lands Minister Tony Buti:

    “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.”

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