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The Methamphetamine Nightmare

By: Steve Goldman, CCIM

two people in yellow haz-mat suits at a meth labBy Michael Schmitz, P.G., CML-H

When it comes to properties and property transfers (especially rentals), if Methamphetamine (Meth) has been manufactured or there is suspected use on the property or in the dwelling, then a seemingly nightmare of work begins.  This is especially true if the property is quarantined by police due to manufacturing. However, a tier system for decontamination is established by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.  This tier system ranges from 1 to 4, with a simple or suspected cook ranking at Tier 1, and a “Super Lab” ranking at Tier 4.  Most meth cooks in our region are in the Tier 1 to Tier 2 range.

It is a common myth that if Meth is used or made in a structure, that all of the walls have to be stripped to the support structure and replaced.  Although this is true in extreme cases, most of the time, proper cleaning and encapsulation of the walls by a Certified CML Decontamination Contractor will be sufficient.  Decontamination of a Tier 1 site (including “Shake and Bake” cooks) can often be performed quickly and effectively.  However, if police have not quarantined a property, then information is not in an official file and no information about Meth activity will be disclosed.

Buyers should be aware of the potential risks when acquiring a property. Disputes over suspected Meth contamination have resulted in buyer defaults and bank repossessions, even when contamination at levels known to cause harm to humans was not scientifically proven to be present.

QE2 recommends that buyers, sellers and property managers contact a qualified professional when there is any suspicion or indication that Meth has been manufactured in a structure. Our study will help you determine the magnitude of the problem.  It may not be as bad as you think!

Mr. Schmitz is a Professional Geologist (PG) with Quantum Environmental & Engineering Services, LLC, (QE2). He is also a Certified Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Hygienist (CML-H). QE2 is a full service environmental and engineering services company located in Knoxville and Nashville Tennessee. 

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