ONE of the eight residents still in the West Australian asbestos mining town of Wittenoom said today the State Government had finally cut its electricity supply to the dwindling outback community.
The Government has been trying to close the Pilbara town, 1400km north of Perth, since the late 1970s, because of the danger posed by asbestos tailings that still lie around the area. But some diehard residents refuse to leave the virtual ghost town, located in the middle of what is now the Karijini national park which attracts many visitors.
Shop owner and local shire councillor Lorraine Thomas said the town lost power while she was speaking on the telephone from her Wittenoom gem store about the likelihood that the power supply would be cut off today.
“You know what just happened then – they just turned the power off,” Cr Thomas said.
The power from the state grid was cut at 10.05am (WST).
But electricity supplies to the town, from 10.06.am (WST), would be supplied by solar power backed by fuel generators, Cr Thomas said.
“It's no big deal,” said Cr Thomas, who met her husband in the town in 1985 when its population was 100, after moving there from Victoria.
John Kitis, a spokesman for the state electricity utility Horizon Power, said the power had been cut.
“Horizon Power has withdrawn services from Wittenoom,” Mr Kitis said.
“This has been planned for some time and residents have been kept informed.
“The Government is offering residents packages to help them find alternative accommodation.
“The town is still considered to be unsafe. There is a lot of asbestos dust blowing around up there and the residents, and the tourists they attract, are at risk. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,19648384-29277,00.html
They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions....(I've actually been to Hell, Michigan- and it IS lined with roses!)
I was "onto" the asbestos problem an easy five years before nearly anyone else- yet, even I question if the hysteria has gone overboard. While some asbestos is very bad, the bulk of what we call 'asbestos' is of little risk.
In a similar manner, our own government went totally nuts when contaminated soil was found in Times Beach, Mo. The most draconian measures were taken. To this day, I have relations who were not able to recover their property, and were never compensated. The pai n is made all the more real, as the "danger" the government was responding to has since been largely discounted.
Nevertheless, maybe there is something to be said for local power generation. This town would be a good place for all those solar and wind power advocated to "put up or shut up."
It's hard to believe, but we can get along just fine without electricity. Many here still do. A century ago, even the Rockefellers had but the most basic of electrical service.