• There is estimated to be 64 thousand tonnes of highly toxic blue asbestos in the tailing dumps of Wittenoom. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Deadly contamination from the mining of blue asbestos at Wittenoom has spread outside a 46,000 hectare management zone. Banjima Traditional Owners say it can't be ignored any longer.
By
Karen Michelmore

Source:
NITV News
12 Oct 2021 - 5:30 PM  UPDATED 12 Oct 2021 - 5:30 PM

The Banjima Traditional Owners of Western Australia's Pilbara region have taken their fight to clean up the massive and highly toxic Wittenoom contamination site to the state's parliament.

In a petition, tabled today, the group have called on the government to identify who was responsible for the contamination, how much it will cost to clean it up, and communicate with the Banjima when and how they will do this.

Banjima Elder Matiland Parker said he has been asking the WA Government to get rid of the asbestos pollution for a decade.

"We want our Country cleaned up and made safe for all people, for now and for future generations," said Mr Parker, the chair of the Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) in a statement.

Tonnes of highly toxic blue asbestos blanket Wittenoom Gorge, known as Nambiguna, in a legacy of asbestos mining which finished there 60 years ago.

Action needed: MP

The petition, with 200 signatures, was tabled in WA State Parliament this afternoon by Greens MP Brad Pettitt.

Mr Pettitt described the contaminated site as "the most dangerous contaminated site in the Asia- Pacific region".

"Government over many years has looked at the cost of cleaning this site up but without action the clean-up cost goes up exponentially," Mr Pettitt said in a statement.

"These toxic waste piles, 11km from Wittenoom and only five kilometres from the tourist hubs in the Karijini National Park are in need of immediate remediation.

"No more reports are necessary. It just needs action."

The petition will be considered by the Parliament's Environment and Public Affairs committee.

Australia's biggest industrial disaster 'can't be ignored'

Banjima Elder Mr Parker said the asbestos fibres were spreading, and were already in waterways.

"The problem is getting worse," he said.

"It's time that the government takes action, that's what this petition is about.

"This is Australia's biggest industrial disaster and it can't be ignored any longer." 

NITV's The Point program revealed in August that the asbestos contamination had spread from the 46,000 hectare Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area (WAMA), temporarily impacting Rio Tinto's construction of its railway line to its $2.6 billion iron ore project in the Pilbara.

The vast WAMA zone was declared in 2008 because of the serious risk to human health.

Out of sight: Australia's most toxic site untouched for 60 years
Asbestos contamination from Wittenoom has impacted Rio Tinto's construction of its railway line to its $2.6 billion iron ore project in the Pilbara. The Banjima Traditional Owners say the waste should have been cleaned up years ago.