• A warning to tourists still flocking to Australia's most deadly town
A warning to tourists still flocking to Australia's most deadly town
12 Jul, 2019, No Comment

Summary: There are a litany of reasons to head to Western Australia's Pilbara region – the natural playground boasts some of the country's most dreamy landscapes, rare flora and fauna, and a rich Indigenous culture.....

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But as locals work to grow tourism in the region, there's one place the government is desperately trying to keep people away from. So deadly is it, it's been removed from maps.


Wittenoom, a former country town in the Hamersley Range region, today lies abandoned. Watch the clip above for an eerie glimpse at the once bustling mining site.


The decaying town is widely considered the most contaminated site in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 2000 deaths linked to the town's blue asbestos mining operations of the 1960s.


Mining production was formally shut down in 1966, but the asbestos fibres left behind sadly have rendered the site permanently unsafe for human habitation, according to experts.


Wittenoom was officially degazetted in 2007, with the town's name removed from maps and street signs.


Entire homes filled with household items and furniture now gather dust after residents were forced to flee and leave their belongings behind.


Despite the exposure risk, tourists and urban explorers continue to defy signs warning of deadly asbestos tailings.


The ex-town's notoriety – not helped by a recent bill to have its closure finalised – has been attracting a new wave of tourists to the site, with many taking to Instagram to post eerie travel shots of the region.



Some even claim the site to be a "bucket-list" place to visit.


Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Lands Ben Wyatt described fallout from the contamination as "one of the saddest chapters in WA history," and one the town would never recover from.


"It is important to understand that when the Wittenoom mine closed there were 3 million tonnes of asbestos tailings left behind in the gorge and surrounding area," he told 9Honey.


"Exposure to a single fibre of these tailings could prove fatal. Therefore, as disappointing as it is, it is virtually impossible to clean the area to a level where it would then considered safe for human habitation."


Wyatt said the cost of the clean-up has never been estimated, due to the immense scale of the issue and the fact that the fibres are naturally occurring.


"Taxpayers could literally spend billions of dollars and still have the area unsafe for human habitation," he said.


For those still keen to visit, Wyatt had this to say.


"I have a simple message for anyone thinking of travelling to Wittenoom. Don't. These warnings signs are not there for decoration or to add your Instagram collection. They are serious warnings about serious health consequences.


"I can't stress enough that it is particularly foolish to travel to Wittenoom. There are plenty of gorges in WA which do not bring with them the threat of a fatal consequences."


 

Katherine Scott, 11/07/2019,travel.nine.com.au/latest/australias-most-contaminated-town-wittenoon-abandoned/b7752071-b209-452a-bdfb-442a73b66c25

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