Squeaky Clean: State Police Work To Stay On Top Of Meth Lab Waste Issues

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 2, 2013 Updated Aug 2, 2013 at 5:18 PM EDT

FT. WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) ---You've heard the phrase, "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it".

Members of a special team of Indiana State Troopers in Fort Wayne know exactly what that means.

Their task is to clean up the toxic waste from meth lab busts.

Cooking up meth, even in a plastic pop bottle, is risky business.

Saying the process is flammable is a big understatement.

"As you can see, it's building up the ammonia gas and pressure through the bottle, and it's eventually going to end up failing," said Master Trooper Andy Smith, as he showed us a video of a “one pot” meth lab right before the powerful mixture inside a bottle exploded into a ball of flames.

Taking care of nasty chemicals that trigger these volatile episodes is the responsibility of Trooper Smith with the Ft. Wayne ISP Post’s Meth Suppression Unit.

July 30th, cops in Kendallville shut down a sizeable home-based meth lab and arrested five people.

The less glamorous side of things involves figuring out what to do with the trash found inside.

A storage pod behind the Fort Wayne State Police Post serves as a temporary holding tank.

Chemicals are separated into their own vacuum-sealed containers to keep the stuff from mixing and turning even more dangerous.

A haz-mat company every couple of weeks comes to haul the containers away.

The bill for cleaning a contaminated meth lab site gets dropped in the lap of the property owner.

" It's somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 to $40,000 (to do the cleanups), depending on how bad the labs are," Trooper Smith said.

The bill at the end of the process for incinerating or burying the toxic waste goes to the state.

It costs up to $175.00 to haul away one bucket of waste material.

Originally, state police placed only one container in each bucket, and in some cases, there was only a small amount of liquid or solid in the bottom of such a container.

Now, everything is consolidated, reducing the number of buckets shipped out, which saves Hoosier taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Allen County has already had more meth lab seizures this year than for all of 2012, which means knowing what to do with the growing toxic waste from such labs is becoming more important all the time.

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