Vermont authorities expect methamphetamine to keep them busy this year.
"We could see an increase to 20, maybe 30 labs," said Chris Herrick, Vermont's hazmat chief.
That's more than the last nine years combined. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, no more than four labs a year have been reported in Vermont between 2004 and 2012.
Herrick says meth is on the rise because it's cheap, easy to make and its ingredients can be found at any pharmacy or hardware store.
"Before this becomes a major problem, let's develop the protocols so that we have them in place," Herrick said.
Herrick is working with the health department, environmental conservation and lawmakers to pass legislation that would answer questions like: do landlords and realtors need to disclose meth houses, who's responsible for cleanup and what standards do they need to meet?
"Right now, we don't offer any sort of guidance to people on how they can cleanup properties that have been used as meth labs and we would like to change that," Vt. State Toxicologist Sarah Vose said.
The Vermont Health Department says residue from cooking meth can seep into pillows, drapes, counters and carpets, posing health hazards long after the active chemicals are removed. Babies-- from 6 to 24 months-- are the most vulnerable, crawling around surfaces most adults don't touch. This becomes especially dangerous when parents don't even know they're living in a former meth lab.
"The person who makes the mess is responsible to pick it up. Well, it's going to be pretty hard to get somebody who's in jail for 33 months to pay for the cleanup," Herrick said.
Hazmat and police sweep affected homes for the dangerous chemicals and remove immediate hazards. But they're not responsible for a thorough, professional deep cleaning. Authorities say they can offer advice but residents re-enter at their own risk.
"We can't tell them that it's safe reoccupy. We can't tell them it's unsafe. We do recommend that they hire a cleanup contractor and there are some in Vermont certified by the DEA," Herrick said.
Whether the legislation passes or not, Herrick and his colleagues will continue their mission to keep Vermonters safe with upcoming projects like devising protocols for decontaminating hotels and investigating the residual dangers of smoking, rather than cooking, meth inside a home.
Hazmat says the majority of Vermont's meth labs are outdoor or mobile operations.
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:33:15 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:04:45 GMT
Darn Tough appears to be making a darn good profit. The high-end sock manufacturer out of Northfield reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with revenues up almost 80 percent over theMore >>
Vermont sock manufacturer Darn Tough reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever.More >>