The asbestos-ridden Pilbara town of Wittenoom will finally be closed after the State Government passed a Bill to enable acquisition of lots at the degazetted town. The Wittenoom Closure Bill was introduced to Parliament by former Lands Minister Ben Wyatt in 2019 and was aimed at enabling a compulsory acquisition of the remaining 17 privately owned lots in the condemned town. The Bill was finally passed on March 23. The deadly ghost town, 113km from Tom Price, was home to a blue asbestos mine at Wittenoom Gorge that closed in 1966. It is considered one of the worst industrial disasters in Australia and the town was degazetted in 2007. The Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area covers more than 46,500ha and includes the former townsite, Wittenoom Gorge and Joffre Floodplain. The Bill was passed through the Legislative Assembly in August 2019 but came to a standstill in the Legislative Council after its second reading later that month. The Shire of Ashburton that year moved a motion to support the legislation, but little more progress was made. Since 2008 the Shire of Ashburton has paid $6.3 million on cases related to the ghost town after its insurance coverage ran out more than a decade ago. In April 2021, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage said the former town had three property owners, one of whom was a permanent resident. Lands Minister John Carey said the passing of the Wittenoom Closure Bill was a significant step in resolving the longstanding industrial tragedy that will protect public health and put an end to a dark period in the State’s history. “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,” he said. “The mining of asbestos at Wittenoom has had such a devastating and long-term impact on the lives of so many Western Australian people and families.” Mr Carey said the passing of the Bill meant the State Government will acquire the remaining properties in the townsite, before removing all structures that are left standing in the area. The ghost town’s notoriety continues to attract tourists despite the exposure risk, with many taking to social media to post travel shots in the region. “Despite the very clear health risks of travelling to the area, people have continued to visit the site, but this new legislation means there will be nothing left for people to visit,” Mr Carey said.