The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 1, 2013

Discarded meth labs pose big danger

CONNEAUT — Methamphetamine labs continue to pose a threat long after they’re done creating their addictive drug, law enforcement agencies are advising.

The discovery of two discarded labs over the past three days in Conneaut have prompted police to warn the public to steer clear of any bags, backpacks or similar containers they may find along the road or in woods or fields.

“Don’t touch them,” said Conneaut Police Chief Charles Burlingham. “They can explode.”

On Monday, the remnants of a meth lab were discovered in a wooded area not far from Carnegie Street, Burlingham said. Two days earlier, lab components were found in a cemetery off Liberty Street, he said. The lab found Monday still had product in it, which could mean it was still active and the owner may have intended to return to it, Burlingham said.

Meth labs — even the portable, so-called “one-pot” set-ups — pose a significant danger, Burlingham said. Because of the way the drug is created, they are extremely combustible and can explode or catch on fire. Ingredients themselves can generate toxic fumes or contain caustic material that can burn skin, he said.

Abandoned labs have been found along roadsides around Ashtabula County. Recently, children walking home from their bus stop found one in the southern part of the county, officers have said.

“They are a very big hazard,” said Lt. Terry Moisio of the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s a big chance of fire, explosion or chemical contamination,” he said. “They are very volatile.”

Old meth labs can be found in a variety of packages, Moisio said. Backpacks are popular, but some labs have been created in ice chests, he said. Meth-makers aren’t fussy where they dispose of their dangerous operations.

“They like to toss their trash along the road,” Moisio said.

With the arrival of spring, people are busy cleaning up their property and clubs and groups are sprucing up roadsides. People should use caution and contact police if they encounter a suspicious container, Burlingham said.

“It scares me that kids may be picking up stuff out there and they don’t know what’s in it,” he said.

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