Despite the known fact that Wittenoom is responsible for many deaths, there are some who are reluctant to ban tourists from visiting the town. Undeniably,residents who nevertheless reside there are feeling financial and emotional strain due to the without of tourist trade, however when I saw an article in the West Australian Newspaper Wednesday 19th May, titled “The Town that Won’t Die”, I was upset and angered by the comments made by a resident of the town, who stated that he had lived in Wittenoom since 1966 and that to his knowledge,no one had died of mesothelioma during that time.
No one should become complacent, or take comfort in the knowledge that thirty eight years have passed without incidence of mesothelioma in Whittenoom, for it is a known fact that many years may pass between inhalation of asbestos dust and it’s deadly legacy of mesothelioma.
I became tragically aware of this, when my husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2001, this as a consequence of him having lived in Wittenoom for a few short months as a child. Forty five years had passed between his inhalation of asbestos dust and his diagnosis.
I, for one cannot think of Wittenoom without pain. It killed my husband and his father, and many more loved ones will die in years to come, as a consequence of living there. No one who has witnessed the devastation of this terrible disease and lost loved ones by it could have any empathy for Wittenoom. It is forever tainted with a killer dust that once inhaled remains in the lungs, until without warning it strikes, and there is no hope, no cure, for this terrible disease.
For the residents who wish to keep there, it is their choice. However, to encourage and permit tourists to visit Wittenoom, knowing complete well the dangers of asbestos dust inhalation, is as irresponsible as the mining company who produced this monster and refused to close operation already after they became aware of its existence.
Wittenoom may well be a pictureque place to live for the remaining residents – to me it reflects a enormous graveyard filled with all the loved ones who have died and a pain in the heart for all who have lost them. I would like to see it wiped off the map forever.