Australia`s Forgotten Asbestos Ghostown

in Asbestos

The forgotten ghost town of Wittenoom in Western Australia is today home to about eight residents who still live in the town, and it receives no government, postal services or power from the grid. In June 2007, the town's name was removed from all official maps and road signs.  


So how did this once prosperous town end up as a ghost town? The answer can be summed up in a single word ASBESTOS! When mining began in Wittenoom Gorge. In 1947 a company town was built, and by the 1950s it was the area`s largest town. During the 1950s and early 60's Wittenoom was Australia's only supplier of blue asbestos, the town and mine was shut down in 1966 due to unprofitability and growing health concerns from asbestos mining in the area.


Working conditions in the mine were appalling. The miners had  to work in dreadful conditions extracting the deadly blue asbestos which was in very thin layers in the hard rock. And it was twenty years before mine owners even attempted to drill a ventilation hole from the surface to the mine to supply the miners with fresh air.


Working conditions in the mill were even more dangerous than the mine. The ore from the mine was  taken to the mill for processing by a conveyor belt.  The miners worked in  clouds of asbestos dust for hours on end, when only one minutes exposure to blue asbestos fibres would have been enough to cause lung cancer or mesothelioma.

A recent report concluded "that there was a medium to extreme risk for potential tourists who visit the area in and around Wittenoom to be exposed to airborne asbestos dust, which may result in mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer." The Australian Department of Health, who independently reviewed this report, expressed the view "that the exposure and risks identified in the report represent an UNACCEPTABLE PUBLIC HEALTH RISK."


The modern day legacy of this tragedy is that Western Australia has the highest rate of malignant mesothelioma than any State in Australia or anywhere in the world per capita of population.   However at least Australia has finaly banned asbestos use and its manufacture, unlike many other countries in the world who still continue to refuse to ban it.  One of the main reasons that deaths from asbestosis and mesothelioma are rising in the world today is that there are still many countries where asbestos use is perfectly normal and legal.

You can read similar articles about this subject here  

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Charity. Faith. Hope. has 1 articles online

Charity Faith Hope wants to highlight the fact that thousands of people around the world are facing an early death from mesothelioma and asbestosis. You can find out more about these deadly diseases by visiting

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Australia`s Forgotten Asbestos Ghostown

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This article was published on 2011/01/03