O’Fallon City Staff Drafts Meth Lab Clean-Up Ordinances

A representative from the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force discussed the dangers of chemicals from methamphetamine labs at the city council workshop.

O’Fallon staff is drafting two proposed ordinances regarding the clean up of residential meth labs in the city.

If approved, the new laws will provide a set of standards for making sure homes are safe for occupants if they have previously been exposed to the harmful chemicals of methamphetamine.

The proposed ordinances will come before the O’Fallon City Council for a vote in the near future, according to City Administrator Keith Riesberg.

“Over the past several months, the city has encountered several meth labs in residential structures, which have raised some concerns, regarding the standards for cleaning up and re-occupying these structures,” Riesberg said at the Thursday, Aug. 9 workshop.

Riesberg said staff has examined other community standards and worked for several months to establish ordinances dealing with the issue.

A representative from the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force spoke to the council at the workshop on Thursday to provide some background.

“One of the reasons, that this ordinance is so important, is the chemicals that are used in meth are chemicals we all have in our homes,” he said. “Many of us have similar things in our homes right this second, but it’s when you mix these chemicals together in a way they weren’t intended is when they make a problem.”

The drug task force representative used the example of household bleach and ammonia—which he said when mixed, produces a powerful, poisonous gas very similar to the type that is found in meth labs.

He described the gas as spreading throughout the residence and sitting in the low spots of the home like the fog inside of a haunted house.  

“If you could watch meth being produced, that similar effect is happening the whole time, you just can’t see it,” he added.

The task force representative said the new “shake and bake” method of cooking meth is becoming prevalent in the St. Charles County area.

“It’s about 85 to 90 percent of the meth labs we deal with right now, using this new method, where basically all these chemicals are put in one bottle and they react, causing this cascade effect of all these fumes that sit on the floor,” he added.

During the workshop, Ward 3 Councilman John Haman, Jr. asked how long the chemicals usually linger at the base level.

The drug task force representative said it depends on the amount manufactured, and how much vacuuming and fresh air is involved.

“If you think about where the kids are playing, where the dogs are playing, where the babies are crawling, it’s all going to be low on the floor, so that’s the problem with these chemicals,” he said. “So an ordinance to test these residences, and to abate them and retest to make sure they’re clear, is of the utmost importance to people who live there now and to people who will buy these homes in the future.”

Riesberg said city staff is reviewing the proposed ordinances and working on a final revision before bringing them before the city council.






Kevin Neal Carpenter September 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM
So who is suppose to pay for this cleanup? I'm seeing prices like $20,000 to clean up a meth house. The home brewer? Not likely. The landlord who, if they are lucky, clears $50-$100/month on the rent? The insurance companies? I can answer that last one - "Contamination" clauses are in most insurance polices - you can NOT insure against this.
Elizabeth September 04, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Excellent post, Kevin!
Kevin Neal Carpenter September 04, 2012 at 10:11 PM
We have (6) single family rental homes. They were bought almost 6 years ago with the goal of funding my then newborn daughter's college. 6 homes... raise the rent $50/month once a year or two, in 18 years you should be able to pay for college - in theory. Might make a nice retirement income too. Reality is we have been losing about $10,000/year to vacant homes, repairs, fixups after people leave, etc. The rent collected barely covers the mortgages and has actually had to drop substantially due to the economy. Homes have gone down in value so that even those we bought at 10-15% under market and fixed up and worth less than we paid for them. We are stuck: Can't sell the homes because they are underwater. Can't break even. Live in fear some otherwise good renter goes off the edge and starts cooking meth... ruining their lives, their families, and ours. Can't even walk away from them without destroying our credit and risking the courts taking away everything we own to pay the banks. Some life. Now people want to pass laws to punish us if we don't find money to quickly have a house cleaned? Wonder how many of them could find $20,000+ to spend after getting a phone call from the police with the bad news. We are not big, greedy, wealthy corporations out here folks... we are just families like the rest of you - trying to scrape together a living.
Tonia Dutton December 31, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Kevin you wrote an AWESOME comment!MMy so-called Uncle just got My 73 year old GrandMother's house condemned! I'm talking about a $300,000.00 house! Now She's old and His stupid ass built an efficiency apartment onto the house so He could do His thing! Now in order for her to be able to move back in She has to pay about $24,000.00 in clean-up! Now tell Me how TF a 73 year old woman with no other family but Me w/ 4 kid's is supposed to do this?? The sad part about it all is He has over 5 manufacturing charges not to mention precursors, distribution within 1,500 ft of a school and sanctuary and child endangerment!!! I've said all of this to plead for any help on how or what to do to help the clean-up be a little cheaper!?? If you can help please respond or email Me at toniadutton@gmail.com Thanks in advance, Tonia


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