Draft law for Wit­tenoom ac­qui­si­tion, de­mo­li­tion

Pilbara News - - News - Kate Emery

■ The WA Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at com­pul­sory ac­qui­si­tion and de­mo­li­tion of the last stand­ing homes in the as­bestos-con­tam­i­nated town of Wit­tenoom.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously tried to buy out the hand­ful of res­i­dents who still call the Pil­bara town home, the Gov­ern­ment is pur­su­ing draft leg­is­la­tion to al­low it to seize the land from own­ers.

Na­tion­als WA leader and Lands Min­is­ter Terry Red­man has taken a re­quest to Cab­i­net for draft leg­is­la­tion to com­pul­so­rily ac­quire 21 free­hold lots col­lec­tively owned by six peo­ple, three of whom still live in the town.

Un­der ex­ist­ing laws, the Gov­ern­ment can only com­pul­so­rily ac­quire land for pub­lic works.

In de­mol­ish­ing what re­mains of a once-thriv­ing min­ing town, the in­ten­tion is to re­strict ac­cess to the site and dis­cour­age tourists who visit de­spite health warn­ings.

Wit­tenoom Gorge was Aus­tralia’s ma­jor sup­plier of blue as­bestos be­tween 1943 and 1966 and mine tail­ings were used for the town’s roads, carparks, play­grounds and fields.

Since the health risks of as­bestos came to light the mine has been shut down, the town de-gazetted and the en­tire area clas­si­fied as con­tam­i­nated and not suit­able for “any form of hu­man oc­cu­pa­tion”.

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