Come clean on plans for Wit­tenoom

Pilbara News - - Opinion -

Once again, the State Govern­ment is go­ing in hard to force the last few res­i­dents out of Wit­tenoom (Draft law for Wit­tenoom ac­qui­si­tion, de­mo­li­tion, 16/12).

In 2007, the Govern­ment re­moved all power to the town and has over the years let the roads to Wit­tenoom, and es­pe­cially into the gorge, fall into dis­re­pair.

Now there is an an­nounce­ment from Lands Min­is­ter Terry Red­man to ask State Cab­i­net for the right to com­pul­so­rily ac­quire 21 free­hold land ti­tles owned col­lec­tively by six peo­ple, three of whom still live in Wit­tenoom.

The pur­pose of the ac­qui­si­tion is to de­mol­ish what is left of Wit­tenoom and re­strict ac­cess to this beau­ti­ful and scenic part of the Hamer­s­ley Range.

In ad­di­tion, the Govern­ment is hop­ing to re­strict ac­cess to the area and dis­cour­age tourists who visit the area de­spite health warn­ings.

While the Govern­ment seeks to dis­cour­age tourists (I have been to Wit­tenoom and the gorge in the hin­ter­land a num­ber of times from 1969-2007) it does not seek to dis­cour­age Rio Tinto from build­ing its Koodaideri mine nearby and run­ning the western cor­ri­dor of its pro­posed rail­way through the Wit­tenoom As­bestos Man­age­ment Area.

Else­where, one Wit­tenoom res­i­dent has sug­gested read­ings of as­bestos lev­els in the air are min­i­mal.

The di­rec­tor-gen­eral of Lands, how­ever, is adopt­ing a far more cau­tious, al­though ab­surd, ap­proach, say­ing “we only go into that town with moon suits on and we are try­ing to dis­cour­age any­one else from go­ing in there”.

There are lots of ura­nium mines around WA where moon suits would be far more ap­pro­pri­ate, with ra­dioac­tive tail­ings blow­ing around the land­scape, than at Wit­tenoom, where the tail­ings have mostly been cov­ered up by soil.

The Govern­ment has some­thing to hide about its pro­pos­als for Wit­tenoom and it should come clean. Richard Titelius, Bal­la­jura

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