State land contaminated sites

Information on contaminated State land in Western Australia.
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The Department manages Crown land that is affected by contamination and information regarding hazard control. 

Hazard Control

Information regarding hazard control on State (Crown) land and unmanaged reserves in Western Australia, including fire, vermin and weed control.

Fire hazard control

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) is responsible for fire prevention on unallocated State land and unmanaged reserves outside the metropolitan area, regional centres and townsites.

Aside from DFES's fire prevention responsibilities outlined above, local governments in conjunction with the DFES are responsible for managing fire on unallocated State land and unmanaged reserves. The department has a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with DFES for fire prevention on unallocated State land and unmanaged reserves inside the metropolitan area, regional centres and townsites.

In relation to State land not covered by the MOU with the department, and where there is no legal requirement for the State to abide by the requirements of the Bush Fires Act 1954 (Cwlth), the department seeks to be a good neighbour and to fulfil its management responsibilities.

Funds are budgeted annually for fire abatement programs on unallocated State land and on unmanaged reserves inside the metropolitan area, regional centres and townsites. This work is arranged by DFES, in accordance with its MOU with the department. Priority is given to large tracts of land considered to present a high risk to communities and to State land adjacent to urbanised areas (e.g., metropolitan Darling Scarp bushlands).

Vermin and weed control

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is responsible for managing declared plants and animals on unallocated State land and unmanaged reserves outside the metropolitan area, regional centres and townsites.

In relation to State land within the metropolitan area, regional centres and townsites, funds are budgeted annually for weed and vermin control on State land, with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation contracting the work out on behalf of the department.

Other hazards on State land

A small allocation is provided each year to attend to other hazards on State land such as:

  • removal of dangerous trees
  • establishing warning signs for disused mining shafts and shallow swimming holes
  • removing abandoned improvements such as old buildings or vehicles.

If you require further information please contact us

To report any illegal dumping call 1300 784 782 or visit the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation website.

Northampton Lead Tailings Project

The Northampton region has a long history of lead and copper mining. The old State Battery opened in 1954 and over the next 30 years, leftover materials from mined lead ore (called tailings) accumulated at the site (up to 75,000 tonnes). The lead tailings were progressively removed from the site by local contractors and residents and used for a range of purposes including building foundations, fill material, driveways, garden areas and bases for outbuildings.

The potential link between lead-related health effects on people and the lead tailings on Northampton properties was first identified in 1979. Since then, various investigations have been undertaken with the remediation of the Battery site and the encapsulation of lead tailings in a containment cell completed in June 2012.

In April 2013, the State Government, led by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (the Department) commenced NLTP Phase 1 to assess the presence and distribution of lead tailings within the Northampton townsite. From 2013 to 2014, a systematic property inspection program was undertaken across participating properties. In total, 743 properties were investigated for lead tailings. This represents 98% of all land parcels in the townsite. 

Between February 2018 and February 2019, 136 parcels of land within the Northampton townsite, that were impacted by lead tailings, were remediated. During remediation, over 17,000 cubic metres of tailings and tailings impacted soils were taken to a temporary storage facility established at the Wheal Ellen site. This is a former abandoned lead mine located on the outskirts of town that is now Crown land managed by the Department. 

Between February 2021 and October 2021, tailings within the TSF, and other unmanaged tailing stockpiles present at Wheal Ellen (resultant from former mining operations), were placed into a permanent containment cell (PCC) at the Wheal Ellen site.  

As the lead agency for the NLTP, the Department has also committed to investigation of the former Commonage and Wanerenooka mine sites within Northampton.

Throughout the NLTP, the Department has consulted and worked with key stakeholders, including property owners, Traditional Owners, the Shire of Northampton, the Departments of Health, Water and Environmental Regulation, and Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, and other community and industry stakeholders.  The Department will continue to work with all of these stakeholders during ongoing investigations and management of the NLTP.   


The Contaminated Sites Branch can be contacted via

Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area

The Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area (WAMA) is impacted by asbestos contamination derived from historical mining activities at Wittenoom Mine, Colonial Mine and Yampire Mine and should not be visited.


The three Wittenoom mines operated in the area during the 1930's up until 1966 and produced waste material called tailings, which contain varying amounts of residual blue asbestos fibres (crocidolite).  

The stockpiles of tailings have been eroded and dispersed over the years since the mining operations have ceased and now extend away from the actual mine sites. Tailings were also historically removed from the stockpiles and used on roads, buildings and around the former Wittenoom townsite as fill.

In 1978, the State government began phasing down the former town of Wittenoom because of concerns over health risks from the presence of airborne asbestos fibres. In June 2007, Hon Jon Ford MLC, then Minister for Regional Development, announced that the town site had officially been abolished.

Remnants of blue asbestos are still present throughout the Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area (WAMA), presenting a potential human health risk.

The WAMA covers an area of 46,840 hectares of land and includes the former Wittenoom townsite, airfield, cemetery, mining areas, Wittenoom Gorge, Yampire Gorge and Joffre Floodplain. This entire area was classified by the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) in 2008 as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.

The area was declared by DWER and the Department of Health as "not suitable for any form of human occupation or land use".

Health risks in Wittenoom 

As a result of past mining activity in Wittenoom, asbestos tailings are distributed throughout the area including as tiny asbestos fibres that remain on the ground and in the air and cannot always be seen visually.

The asbestos fibres have been dispersed throughout the area by wind and water erosion of tailings stockpiles at the former mining areas as well as historical use of the tailings for road base and fill around the former townsite.  The asbestos can be carried by wind and water and can be disturbed by human activities such as walking or driving through the area, making them easy to inhale.

Exposure to asbestos fibres may result in contracting a fatal disease, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer.

Symptoms of these diseases may not be apparent for extended periods of time after exposure.

Asbestos fibres from past mining operations in Wittenoom have already resulted in thousands of fatalities among miners, residents, and visitors to the town.

Stay safe. Do not travel to Wittenoom. 

For further information please visit the Department of Health's website at:

Recent State government actions

Permanent roadblocks have been installed at the entrances to the former townsite and Wittenoom Gorge, as the area is not safe to visit.

Wittenoom Steering Committee

The Wittenoom Steering Committee has been convened to lead a coordinated government approach to manage the WAMA. The Wittenoom Steering Committee is made up of senior representatives appointed by the relevant government agencies, and the Traditional Owners.

Alternative destinations to visit in the Pilbara

There are many beautiful destinations in the Pilbara to visit including:

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park is one of Western Australia's largest national parks and arguably one of the most spectacular. Unbeatable for adventure, the park is famous for its sheer gorges, waterfalls, and cool swimming holes.

Tom Price

Nestled deep in the Hamersley Ranges, at the base of the beautiful Mt Nameless, is the town of Tom Price. Tom Price is a picturesque, modern, and fully serviced town designed to blend into the natural environment and is a great destination during the sunny winter months.

Nullagine and Marble Bar

With the discovery of gold in 1888, and later diamond and gemstones, Nullagine is unspoilt nature and is a must for the traveller seeking true four-wheel adventure and off the beaten track wilderness. Stop in Marble Bar to visit the historic gold rush mining town and the Comet Mine.

For further information please go to the Department of Tourism website.


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