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Victims of Asbestos in Australia

Asbestos has posed a health hazard for generations not only in the United States, but all around the world. One notable case that clearly shows the dangers of asbestos exposure is the former town of Wittenoom in Western Australia. This small mining town was devastated by the effects unsafe working conditions, and eventually had to be shut down entirely by the Australian government. Today this story serves as an important cautionary tale about safety.

Wittenoom Gorge was first discovered by iron ore magnate Lang Hancock in the 1930’s. He established a mining site there in pursuit of crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos. In 1943 the mine was sold to Australian Blue Asbestos Ltd. Before long it had grown so large that the company had to establish a mining town nearby for workers and their families. By the 1950’s Wittenoom had become Australia’s only source of asbestos and a town of about 20,000 people.

The pattern of its residents’ health problems were not noticed until the 1960’s, when information about asbestos and its risks was becoming more widespread. In 1966 the government realized it had no choice but to shut down the town completely. The area was simply too contaminated by asbestos for people to safely live or work there. Although a few residents remain, the government has tried to encourage them to move by shutting off their power and all other government services.

Since 1966 over 1,000 former residents of Wittenoom have died from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other asbestos-related diseases. Doctors predict that the total death toll will eventually rise to over 2,000 people: 10% of the town’s initial population. The suffering of these victims and their families, as well as the economic ruin of an entire town, starkly illustrates the risks employers are taking when they gamble with their workers’ health.

Contact a Mesothelioma Attorney

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos at home or at work, contact the mesothelioma attorneys Williams Hart at 800-781-3955.

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