The problem with meth labs begins with the police department. Once they make a meth lab bust, they are responsible for doing the initial cleanup of the “lab”. Fortunately for them, they don’t have to do the work themselves. Police departments typically hire certified hazardous-material disposal companies to do the initial cleanup of a meth lab. Yes, they hire hazardous-material disposal companies. That’s right, they hire those people with the head to foot white suits, who get called in when an area presents a health hazard.
Why don’t the police clean up the labs themselves? Because, there are known health risks associated with being in a meth lab. If you happen to buy a home that was a former meth lab, you should be wearing a hazmat suit too. The problem is, you may not know you’re living in a hazardous environment. There are no mandates that meth labs be cleaned and tested before they get sold to a home buyer. I have a hard time understanding why that’s the case. Do the state and federal government think it’s “ok” for a couple with young children to live in a former meth lab? Apparently, they do. Otherwise, they would do something to protect families from buying homes that put their health at risk. Where is the protection for consumers? Where is the protection for America’s children? Why is the government allowing the health of innocent men, women, and children to be put at risk?
“Cleaning up clandestine methamphetamine labs is an enormously complex, time-consuming and costly undertaking. Seizing a lab potentially makes a police agency liable for some of the costs of cleaning up on-site hazardous materials. If the lab is operating when police find it, it must first be safely neutralized so that it does not explode or chemically contaminate the environment. Then, the immediate and apparent hazardous-materials must be cleaned up and disposed of safely.”
“Police usually contract with certified hazardous-material disposal companies for this task. Seizing even a small lab can take four or more hours. Storing evidence and conducting laboratory analysis of chemicals are similarly time-consuming and costly. Many jurisdictions are finding that the demands of processing evidence are straining their forensic laboratory resources.”
“Finally, there is the question of a more permanent cleanup (or remediation) of the site to eliminate the long-term hazards posed by residual chemicals. Much is still unknown about such hazards, so we do not fully know how serious the risks of exposure to contamination are. Consequently, many issues regarding the costs and responsibility for cleanup remain unsettled. There are few, if any, established standards for acceptable contamination levels.”
“Complete remediation is seldom done because of the cost, and owners abandon some property rather than undertake that task. Public health and environmental officials, rather than police, will likely have to take the lead on remediation. New legislation or regulations may be required to establish and enforce remediation standards.”
Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series, Guide No. 16, Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs
2nd Edition, Michael S. Scott, Kelly Dedel