Chemical Storage Containers to Aid Ohio Meth Lab Cleanups

And the number of labs being seized this year is up significantly, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reported.

Law enforcement agencies in Ohio have reported they seized 770 meth labs during the fiscal year from October 2012 through September 2013, up sharply from 607 labs during the previous year. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who released those numbers, on Sept. 9 announced a new method to help cut both the costs and the manpower required to clean up and secure labs following seizures. He said five new storage containers for methamphetamine chemicals have been installed at law enforcement agencies’ locations, including three posts of the Ohio Highway Patrol, as part of DEA's Authorized Central Storage Container Program.

"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 cleanup scenes. This will help get them back on the streets faster so that they can investigate their next case," DeWine said.

"When the federal funding was eliminated for methamphetamine lab neutralization and cleanup in Ohio, it led to an opportunity for collaboration and increased efficiency at a dramatically reduced cost,” Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born said. Contractor expenses, which DEA pays, range from $1,000 to $2,500 per site, according to the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Clandestine Laboratory Unit. With the containers in place, DEA can hire contractors to empty the containers of hazardous waste from several labs at one time, reducing the expense.

The announcement posted by DeWine's office said BCI agents will manage the use of the containers, which can store up to 220 pounds of chemicals, and all are located in secure, monitored areas and will be emptied regularly. "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," DeWine said. "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."

BCI has trained about 100 officers to operate the units, which cost about $7,000 apiece. The money to acquire them came from a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services.

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