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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Law - "Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past" - meth contamination

Here are some recent ILB entries on meth lab cleanup:

Ind. Law - "Plymouth motel pays price for meth cleanup"

Updating earlier ILB entries, including this one from March 30, 2009 ( "Meth lab cleanup a hassle for landlords"), and this one from May 10, 2009 ("Scores of Indiana homes contaminated by meth labs sit abandoned"), both of which bear...

Posted in The Indiana Law Blog on May 27, 2009 08:32 AM

Environment - "Scores of Indiana homes contaminated by meth labs sit abandoned"

The ILB had a comprehensive entry on March 30th, headed "Meth lab cleanup a hassle for landlords" and quoting a South Bend Tribune story. The entry begins with quotes from the August 6, 2006 ILB entry, headed: "Who should pay...

Posted in The Indiana Law Blog on May 10, 2009 01:45 PM

Ind. Law - "Meth lab cleanup a hassle for landlords"

On August 6, 2006, the ILB posted this entry, headed: "Who should pay price for meth messes?" Here is what I wrote at the conclusion of the entry:Here is the proposed rule, #06-125, published in one of the final issues...

Posted in The Indiana Law Blog on March 30, 2009 11:35 AM

I ended the May 10th entry with this:
My thoughts. The ILB has a long list of entries dealing with meth cleanup. Rural properties and urban settings are both impacted. An effective answer needs to be found, right now it appears we have nothing of the sort. What approaches are being used in other states? What about a cleanup fund financed by a tax on the ingredients used to make meth?
Today the NY Times has a lengthy, front page story headed "Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past ." Some quotes:
It was not until February, more than five years after they moved in, that the couple discovered the root of their troubles: their house, across the road from a cornfield in this town some 70 miles south of Nashville, was contaminated with high levels of methamphetamine left by the previous occupant, who had been dragged from the attic by the police.

The Holts’ next realization was almost as devastating: it was up to them to spend the $30,000 or more that cleanup would require.

With meth lab seizures on the rise nationally for the first time since 2003, similar cases are playing out in several states, drawing attention to the problem of meth contamination, which can permeate drywall, carpets, insulation and air ducts, causing respiratory ailments and other health problems.

Federal data on meth lab seizures suggest that there are tens of thousands of contaminated residences in the United States. The victims include low-income elderly people whose homes are surreptitiously used by relatives or in-laws to make meth, and landlords whose tenants leave them with a toxic mess.

Some states have tried to fix the problem by requiring cleanup and, at the time of sale, disclosure of the house’s history. But the high cost of cleaning — $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the home, the stringency of the requirements and the degree of contamination — has left hundreds of properties vacant and quarantined, particularly in Western and Southern states afflicted with meth use.

“The meth lab home problem is only going to grow,” said Dawn Turner, who started a Web site, www.methlabhomes.com, after her son lost thousands of dollars when he bought a foreclosed home in Sweetwater, Tenn., that turned out to be contaminated. Because less is known about the history of foreclosed houses, Ms. Turner said, “as foreclosures rise, so will the number of new meth lab home owners.” * * *

Federal statistics show that the number of clandestine meth labs discovered in the United States rose by 14 percent last year, to 6,783, and has continued to increase, in part because of a crackdown on meth manufacturers in Mexico and in part because of the spread of a new, easier meth-making method known as “shake and bake.”

There are no national standards governing meth contamination. Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to publish cleanup guidelines by the end of 2008, but the agency is still reviewing a draft version. Without standards, professional cleaners say, it is easy to bungle a job that often requires gutting and repeated washing.

About 20 states have passed laws requiring meth contamination cleanup, and they use widely varied standards. Virtually all the laws hold the property owner financially responsible; Colorado appears to be the only state that allots federal grant money to help innocent property owners faced with unexpected cleanup jobs.

In other states, like Georgia, landlords and other real estate owners have fought a proposed cleanup law.

After the Holts bought their house here, Tennessee passed such a law. But since 2005, only 81 of 303 homes placed under a resulting quarantine have been cleaned, according to the state, which has one of the few registries tracking meth lab addresses. The law applies only if the police find a working meth lab at the house, and Jerry Hood, a lawyer and cleanup contractor hired by the Holts for the decontamination work, said many houses in the county had escaped the legislation.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 14, 2009 08:43 AM
Posted to Environment | General Law Related | Indiana Law