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.