Quantcast

More meth lab busts in Vt. spark cleanup concerns - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

More meth lab busts in Vt. spark cleanup concerns

Posted: Updated:
BERLIN, Vt. -

Vermont's hazmat team was called to an undisclosed office building in Berlin after a chemical explosion sent an employee to the hospital.

"I'm not sure why he was doing it here. They don't do any kind of chemical work here. Obviously he was doing something he shouldn't be," Vt. Hazmat Chief Christopher Herrick said.

Luckily, this scenario is fake. But a dramatic spike in the number of mobile meth labs has these first responders taking the drill seriously. What they learn could save their lives.

"The biggest concern that I have is the safety of my personnel. And so by practicing, they get used to dealing with the unknown and the hazards that come with an unknown lab like this," Herrick said.

All hazmat technicians complete 120 hours of specialized training to be on the team. For this meth drill, they first establish a command post, and then get medical clearance to suit up. Once their oxygen tanks are in place and their suits are sealed, the entry team heads inside. Carrying a camera, they find the source of contamination hidden in a storage closet. Outside, a second crew monitors what they're seeing. The recording will later be turned over to police and prosecutors as evidence.

To understand their working challenges, I suited up myself.

Hazmat officials say they've responded to more meth lab calls in the last six months than in the previous 20 years combined.

"I would be able to put everything I need to cook meth in a backpack," Herrick said. "It's not going to look like a lab up at the university or a chemistry lab at a high school. It's not as sophisticated as that."

In many cases, meth makers cook in the woods, using household items like soda bottles and batteries. The leftover trash is dangerous. When the metals used to make meth come in contact with water they can explode.

"Can you imagine a Boy Scout troop or somebody else out there picking up a bottle and then it catches on fire in their hands or in a bag with other bottles," Herrick said.

Authorities don't want to cause public panic, but warn against picking up plastic bottles with dark remnants and ash in the bottom.

"If it doesn't look right, you probably should leave it alone," Herrick advised. "I mean that's counterintuitive to what we do in Vermont."

Next month, state police plan to hold a meth awareness training for law enforcement officers to brief them about the dangers of dismantling these types of labs. Four-hundred police officers are expected to attend.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:52:13 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:16 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
  • Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:54:21 GMT

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.