Wittenoom: Tourists urged to stay away from asbestos town
It is the ghost town in Western Australia that was built on an asbestos mine.
Now authorities are concerned that curious tourists and thrill-seekers are returning to the outback town of Wittenoom, which was shut down in the 1970s.
Local officials issued a notice this week warning people against visiting Wittenoom, located 1,100km (680 miles) north of Perth.
The former mining town is officially classified as a contaminated site. Thousands of its former residents and visitors have died from asbestos exposure.
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The state government has referred to Wittenoom as “the greatest occupational health and safety tragedy in Australia – comparable to the Chernobyl and Bhopal catastrophes.”
Road signs warn people against visiting the town, which still retains a handful of residents.
However, a steady stream of videos and online blog posts in recent years show travellers are not heeding the safety warnings.
‘A short visit won’t hurt’
Earlier this month Ashley White, who is from Western Australia, ventured into the town while travelling through the rugged Pilbara region with his girlfriend.
Wittenoom is located on the way to Karijini National Park, a popular attraction known for its gorges and waterfalls.
Mr White told the BBC that he had researched the town’s asbestos dangers prior to his visit, and that he had read the area’s warning signs.
However none of it stopped him from exploring the derelict buildings and going up to one of the old mine shafts.
“From what I could find, it is the fibres in the air that cause the problems,” he said. “There was no wind when we went so I was under the impression that a short visit won’t hurt.”
Authorities say that toxic asbestos fibres remain all over Wittenoom and its surroundings, including a popular gorge.
Mr White said he liked “looking around ghost towns and abandoned places”. He was “not bothered” by the safety risk, unlike his girlfriend who refused to go into the town.
Other travellers online appear to feel the same as Mr White.Read the full story here
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