Meth lab storage containers installed to save money, time - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Meth lab storage containers installed statewide to assist clean-up

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NORTH CANTON, OH (Toledo News Now) -

On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine unveiled five new methamphetamine chemical storage containers that will help cut costs and save time associated with meth lab clean-up. DeWine announced the installation of the units at a news conference at the Canton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, where one of the containers is housed.

The units were installed as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Authorized Central Storage Container Program and are now regionally located in the following locations:

• Athens Ohio Highway Patrol Post
• Canton Ohio Highway Patrol Post
• Lebanon Ohio Highway Patrol Post
• Columbus Police Impound Lot
• Putnam County Sheriff's Office

"In a time where very few law enforcement agencies have officers to spare, these containers will help not only save money, but also save the valuable time that officers spend guarding drug clean-up scenes. This will help get them back on the streets faster, so that they can investigate their next case," said DeWine.

Law enforcement officers certified in methamphetamine stabilization and disposal procedures will now be able to safely transport chemicals from a meth lab scene to one of the containers. This eliminates the need for officers to guard an incident location, sometimes for several hours, while waiting for a contractor to arrive and remove the waste.

"When the federal funding was eliminated for methamphetamine lab neutralization and clean-up in Ohio, it led to an opportunity for collaboration and increased efficiency at a dramatically reduced cost," said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born.

Contractor expenses, which are paid for by the DEA, range between $1,000 and $2,500 per site, according to agents with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation Clandestine Laboratory Unit. The DEA will now be able to hire contractors to empty the containers of hazardous waste from several labs at one time, instead of hiring them to respond to individual incidents.

BCI agents will manage the use of the containers, which can store up to 220 pounds of chemicals. All of the units are located in secure, monitored areas and will be emptied on a regular basis.

"Even though the chance of an explosion is minimal, we made sure to locate these units in secure locations that are also in areas situated away from the general public," explained DeWine. "All of the chemicals stored in the units will have already been stabilized by law enforcement, and the containers have blast-wall protection as an extra precaution."

So far, Ohio law enforcement agencies have reported 770 meth lab seizures for the fiscal year of October 2012 through September 2013, as compared to 607 labs the previous year. However, not all labs required the use of a contractor for clean-up.

DeWine attributes the increase in labs to the increased use of the "one-pot" meth cooking method, which makes it easier and cheaper for an addict to make meth, intensified efforts by law enforcement to uncover meth labs, and increased awareness on identifying labs and lab remnants. BCI agents have taught approximately 110 classes in the past year to workers and volunteer groups who may be in the position to discover a lab.

The disposal containers are expected to be fully available for use by law enforcement within the next few months. So far, BCI has trained approximately 100 officers on operating the units.

The units, which cost approximately $7,000 each, were paid for through a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services.

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