A Pilbara Shire has called on the State Government to take over the maintenance of 150 kilometres of an asbestos-contaminated road, saying it is “unfeasible” for it to continue to carry out the required works. Roebourne-Wittenoom Road was used historically to transport asbestos between Wittenoom and Point Samson and continues to be used by pastoralists, tourists and mining corporations. Shire of Ashburton councillors at their February 8 meeting resolved to seek the road be reclassified as a main road, which would make it the responsibility of the State Government. If the State Government does not reclassify the road, the Shire will ask it to pay for the remediation and sealing of the road. A council report said the State Government was the regulator at the time of the mining activity and “failed to act responsibly” to rectify the contamination. Sections of the road were declared contaminated sites by the Department of Water and Environment Regulation in June 2017 because asbestos fibres were identified in soil along the road. According to a Shire officer’s report, the annual budget for road maintenance was $1.9 million but the Roebourne-Wittenoom Road would cost $2.4m a year for two treatments. It said traffic counts at the Fortescue River crossing road reported up to 370 vehicles per day were using Roebourne-Wittenoom Road. The report said the road had been graded only twice in three years because of the cost. Shire president Kerry White said the local government should not be made to bear the cost of the road. “Somebody has to pay; it’s not the Shire’s fault,” she said. “The State and Federal government did Wittenoom, not the Shire ... and asbestos fell off the trucks going to Point Samson.” Cr White said if the State Government did not take over maintenance, the Shire could be forced to close the road. However, Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said there were no plans for maintenance works and it was unlikely the road would meet the criteria to be reclassified. “In 2019 Main Roads funded and undertook a one-off heavy grading under asbestos risk management protocols for the Shire,” he said. Mr Roberts shot down the possibility of sealing the road, saying it had not been identified as a future road project for the State. “The Manuwarra Red Dog Highway is considered to be the strategic route that connects Karratha to Tom Price, with both Karijini Drive and Nanutarra Munjina Road linking this key road to the Great Northern Highway, and therefore it is unlikely the Roebourne Wittenoom Road will be considered for sealing,” he said.