A Bill to finalise the closure of the Pilbara’s condemned asbestos mining town has been reintroduced in State Parliament as visitors continue to ignore warnings to steer clear of the picturesque yet deadly gorges. The reinstatement of the Wittenoom Closure Bill will enable the compulsory acquisition of 14 remaining privately owned properties in the former townsite. Once the Bill is passed and the final properties have been acquired, all remaining infrastructure will be demolished to limit people visiting and staying in the area. The town, considered to be the most contaminated site in the southern hemisphere, has more than 2000 deaths linked to its blue asbestos mining operation in the 1960s. Lands Minister Tony Buti said Wittenoom was one of the biggest contaminated sites in the world and remained a public health risk. “The Wittenoom Closure Bill is a significant step forward to resolve this longstanding industrial tragedy, protect public health and put an end to a dark period in our State’s mine closure history,” he said. “While I can’t pre-empt the passage of the Bill, I expect members can appreciate the importance of the Bill.” The town’s notoriety continues to attract tourists despite the exposure risk, with many taking to social media to post travel shots in the region. “The State Government’s message to people tempted to visit Wittenoom is simple — don’t,” Dr Buti said. “It’s simply not worth putting your health at stake for a few Instagram shots.” A quick search of the #Wittenoom hashtag on Instagram shows explorers ignoring constant health warnings from former residents and authorities. Photos posted in the past month show people entering the asbestos mine shafts, camping, and swimming in the asbestos-laden gorges. Ex-Wittenoom worker and retired Greens MP Robin Chapple said visitors to the contaminated town were “mad”. “It only requires one fibre in your lungs to initiate a cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis,” he said. “I’ve seen people taking young kids into the old, abandoned mine site, which is almost committing their children to — 20 years time — a life of misery as they slowly die.” Shire of Ashburton president Kerry White said the Shire supported the State Government’s decision to close the former townsite. “Together with the State, we are liaising with those who still reside there and discourage members of the public from entering the area, and urge members of the community to adhere to warning signs and advice,” she said. “The Shire is strongly supportive of wholly protecting the townsite and surrounds, and has expressed our concerns that raw asbestos continues to contaminate the land and river systems in the area.” The Bill was previously passed by the Legislative Assembly during the last Parliament but could not progress through the Legislative Council ahead of the 2021 State election. Wittenoom was formally delisted as a town in 2007, and the State has since acquired most of the private properties through voluntary acquisition.