Clandestine Laboratory [Meth Lab] Cleanup

Hazardous Waste Division

Thomas Hunting, Controlled Substance Contaminated Property Cleanup Coordinator - (501) 683-1552




In March, 2007, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 864 of 2007 (Senate Bill 829) to protect property owners whose properties have been contaminated through the illegal manufacture of controlled substances and to create a certification program for individuals who choose to undertake the inspection, sampling, remediation, and removal of contaminated materials from such former clandestine laboratories. Act 864 additionally requires that ADEQ be notified after a clandestine laboratory has been discovered and that ADEQ maintain a listing of properties contaminated by the illegal manufacture of controlled substances.

As of May 1, 2008, any person who is contracted to remediate a clandestine laboratory must meet the qualifications of a Certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor as outlined in APC&E Regulation No. 32.

Quick Links

FAQs

PROCESS

Q. What happens after a meth lab is discovered?
A. When a meth lab is discovered, the local law enforcement agency is responsible for making any arrests and seizing the lab. Evidence is removed from the site, and chemical hazard consultants are brought in by law enforcement to remove containers of hazardous chemicals related to the operation of the meth lab, but not needed as evidence. Law enforcement may call child protective services if children are involved.

Law enforcement officials will also place a Notice of Removal placard on the premises, warning that an illegal clandestine laboratory was found and removed from the property, and the property is quarantined until it has been investigated for residual contamination and, if necessary, remediated by a certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor. It is illegal for anyone other than the property owner, his or her certified cleanup contractor, law enforcement officers, or ADEQ inspectors to enter or occupy the premises until such investigation and cleanup has been completed.

Following their investigation, law enforcement officers will complete and submit the El Paso Information Center (EPIC) report form and provide a copy to the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC). ACIC will in turn provide appropriate portions of the EPIC report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Upon receipt of this report, ADEQ will list the property on its web-based List of Methamphetamine-Contaminated Properties.

Q. A Notice of Removal has been placed on my property saying that a meth lab was found there. What do I do next?
A. You should not remove any furniture, appliances, or personal belongings from the premises until they have been tested for contamination and found to be clean. Otherwise, you may spread the contamination and expose others to health risks, as well as making the scope and cost of any required cleanup greater than it already is.

The next step is to contact one of the certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractors to have the property assessed for any remaining meth contamination. If meth contamination is found (> 0.05 µg/100cm˛), the contaminated areas must be cleaned up in accordance with the Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Cleanup Standards. A certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor must perform this work. Upon completion of the cleanup, the Contractor will sample the property again, then prepare, and submit a final report to ADEQ. Upon approval of the final cleanup report, ADEQ will prepare a letter of No Further Action and provide it to the property owner, his or her cleanup contractor, and the local law enforcement agency, and remove the property from the List of Contaminated Properties pursuant to the provisions of A.C.A. 8-7-1404 and 8-7-1406(b).

Q. Does ADEQ provide inspectors to come and test my property for meth or other controlled substance contamination?
A. No. You should contact one of the commercial contractors who are certified to sample and clean up clandestine drug labs.
Q. If I am the property owner, can I continue to live in the house before it has been cleaned up?
A. No. The reason for placing the Notice of Removal and quarantining the property is that it is presumed that a human health risk exists due to meth contamination, and the premises are unsuitable for human habitation until they have been tested and found to be free of contamination. The property owner and his or her cleanup contractor may enter the premises for the purposes of investigating any potential contamination and cleanup, but no one may live in the premises until they have been determined to be free of meth contamination. Per the Arkansas Code, § 8-7-1405(7)(D) and (E), it is a crime (Class B misdemeanor) to enter to re-occupy a meth-contaminated property, or to remove or disturb the Notice of Removal posted on the property prior to ADEQ certifying that the property has been properly decontaminated.
Q. How do I get my property off the list?
A. ADEQ will remove a property from the List of Methamphetamine-Contaminated Properties upon the receipt, review, and approval of a final cleanup report received from a certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor demonstrating that the property has been tested and cleaned up in accordance with the Arkansas Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Standards. Upon approval of such a report, the report will be placed on the ADEQ web site for ten (10) days, after which the report will be removed, the property removed from the contaminated property list, and all records of the property destroyed pursuant to the provisions of A.C.A. 8-7-1404 and 8-7-1406(b).
Q. Cleanup of my property is too expensive... Can I simply tear it down or burn it down to get it removed from the list of contaminated properties?
A. Properties deemed too cost prohibitive to clean up may be razed. A certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor still must be used to process the required paperwork confirming the appropriate handling of all the demolition debris. Demolition by burning may entail the additional approval of local fire authorities, code enforcement agencies, and the ADEQ Air Division.
Q. Are there any funds or grants to help with cleanup expenses?
A. No. There are currently no public funds available for the cleanup of private meth-contaminated properties. While meth-contaminated properties are eligible under the Arkansas Brownfields Program, these cleanups involve a transfer of the property to new ownership and redevelopment in a manner beneficial to the local community, and the typical meth cleanup would not qualify as a brownfields site.

METH CLEANUP CONTRACTORS

Q. What qualifications do I need to have in order to do Clandestine Laboratory Remediation projects in Arkansas?
A. As of May 1, 2008, you must meet the qualifications for a “Certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractor” as set out at APC&EC Regulation No. 32. This is a state requirement for all parties who intend to conduct clandestine laboratory remediation projects.
Q. Are there continuing education requirements associated with certification under Reg. No. 32?
A. Yes. Certified Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Contractors seeking biennial renewal of their certificate shall annually conduct and maintain documentation for, the successful completion of at least 8 hours of OSHA HAZWOPER refresher training as prescribed by 29 CFR1910.120 (e); and at least 8 hours of additional training related to clandestine laboratory investigation or remediation.
Q. What are the cleanup levels associated with the remediation of a clandestine laboratory?
A. Cleanup levels and sampling criteria are outlined in the Clandestine Laboratory Remediation Cleanup Standards.
Q. Are the new cleanup standards applicable to remediation projects completed prior to May 1, 2008?
A. No. Only remediation projects reported after May 1, 2008 will have to meet the clandestine laboratory remediation cleanup standards.

Property owners of a clandestine laboratory which was found prior to May 1, 2008, and wish to obtain a certificate of completed cleanup or letter of no further action required from the Department may enroll their site in the program and complete remediation pursuant to the cleanup guidelines in order to receive such a certificate.

Q. I lost my copy of the No Further Action letter stating that my property had been cleaned up and approved for re-occupation. Can I get another copy of the letter from ADEQ?
A. Probably not. A.C.A. § 8-7-406(b) requires that once a meth-contaminated property has been properly clean up and removed from the list of meth-contaminated properties, ADEQ is required to destroy all copies of information related to that property and its cleanup, including our file copies of the cleanup letter. If your request comes in later than 10 calendar days after the cleanup letter has been mailed, we will no longer have any records of that property or its cleanup. Don’t lose that letter!