Hundreds of Meth Labs Discovered

This Drano can is one of many pieces of waste strewn about the Cane Fork Road meth dump in Leslie County, Ky. Photo Credit: Andrea Rader.

You may have heard about the recent methamphetamine lab discovery so large that law enforcement labeled it a “meth factory”?

The Leslie County Sheriff’s department found hundreds of meth labs in a remote wooded location off Cane Fork Road. Several red phosphorous-related labs and approximately 260 “one-pot” containers (where meth is made by mixing chemicals in a plastic beverage bottle) were found scattered over a large area. Some of the meth labs were still reactive at the time of discovery.

Much of the visible chemical waste was removed by the U.S. Forest Service and local law enforcement. Onsite samples were collected by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management environmental inspectors to assess the degree of contamination and damage caused to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Wherever meth labs are operated, potentially explosive gasses and toxic waste are produced. In fact, for every pound of meth made, around five pounds of harmful chemical waste is generated.  Meth-lab associated waste might include containers with tubing protruding from the top and common household chemicals and materials including drain cleaner, lye, fuel, match boxes, broken batteries or cold blister packs. Spent “one-pot” labs can be stored in unsuspecting items such as coolers or duffle bags and left on roadways, and could still be reactive such as those found in Leslie County.

Although the large “meth factory” site was hiding in the woods, small meth lab set-ups can be nearly anywhere – a highway roadside, car trunk, a neighbor’s kitchen.

In cases where homes are contaminated with meth waste, the Kentucky Division of Waste Management works in conjunction with law enforcement and health departments to remediate structures through the division’s Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup
. Because meth waste is so toxic, especially to small children, and absorbs into home surfaces and structures, it must be remediated by certified contractors.

Tim Hubbard with the Kentucky Division of Waste Management points out that although the division’s Meth Lab Cleanup Program typically addresses meth labs found in residences, samples have been collected at the Leslie County site to determine if there may be residual contamination that could be a concern. Depending on the sample results, it may be necessary to conduct further sampling or cleanup to address residual contamination stemming from the toxic meth chemicals. The laboratory results are expected within the next few weeks.

Whether it is in the woods, on the highway, or around your neighborhood– do not touch suspicious waste. Report it. Immediately contact your local law enforcement agency or Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555.

For more information on the Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup Program, contact Kim Greenidge at 502-564-6716, ext. 4729.