In 1964 one of the most important industrial projects in the history of Bunbury and indeed the South West of Western Australia, opened its gates, amid a storm of controversy.
Located virtually on the banks of the Bunbury estuary, Laporte Australia Ltd. was widely welcomed by most Bunbury residents, as the new company was seen as having enormous potential for job creation, value adding and the development of associated industries, not to mention increased revenue for local businesses and a welcome growth in population.
However, predictions of future environmental disasters were widely circulated by local media.
Environmentalists showered local authorities with complaints and concerns.
One serial complainant was still bombarding the EPA with complaints about noise from the factory two years after it had shut down!
Peter O’Shaughnessy, international award winning environmental manager and chemist and long term Bunbury resident, presents an insider’s view of the high’s and low’s of the Laporte titanium dioxide project which utilized the black sands (ilmenite) being mined on local beaches, to make the incredibly white titanium dioxide pigment used in paints, paper, plastics, cosmetics and even toothpaste.
Sir Charles Court has written the foreword to this entertaining account, laced with anecdotes and reminiscences which capture the spirit and integrity of those who worked to make Laporte the excellent company it was.
• The reasons the Bunbury site was selected over six or seven similar sites, world wide.
• The social and financial benefits of the project over the nearly 37 years of operation before it was closed down in October 1990.
• The dramatic improvements in Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental performance which resulted in international awards in recognition of the work of its scientists.
• Frank discussion of highly controversial environmental issues arising during the life of the project.
‘LAPORTE’ asks the question:
• Why was an efficient, profitable factory closed, at a cost of hundreds of jobs?
• Why was residential development permitted so close to the factory’s boundary, resulting in a myriad of complaints from local residents and finally rendering ongoing operations unsustainable?