MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (9/30/13) – In week 11 of an ongoing series of informative meth-related articles supplied by Muhlenberg County Sheriff Curtis McGehee, this week, the last in the series, the topic for discussion is the impact of Meth on the environment.
Most of us have heard of meth and the way it strikes down families. We have heard of the children that are sometimes referred to as meth orphans. We hear of the anhydrous burns and the meth lab explosions. We also hear of the dramatic effects of meth on the body and mind. It is a cruel drug that has no respect for persons.
There are other consequences as well. One of the many ways that meth is adversely affecting our way of life, is by the toll it takes on the environment. For every pound of meth that is manufactured there are five to six pounds of toxic waste that are left behind.
I remember the first time I ever found meth waste. I was turkey hunting about 15 years ago and found a pile of starting fluid cans out in the woods. At the time I didn’t have a clue why they were there, I just found it strange to see starting fluid cans out in the middle of the woods. I now realize there were other items left behind that were also used in the manufacturing process.
I have explained in other articles that the ingredients that are used include starting fluid, anhydrous ammonia, lithium battery acid, liquid fire, (drain opener) and ephedrine. There are also other ingredients that are used at times, including alcohol, acetone, Coleman fuel, and a host of other toxic items. When the meth cook is finished with the product, he/she is often unconcerned about the meth trash. The cook site will be cluttered with containers and packages, these are not only eye sores but are damaging to the environment.
One of the pieces of equipment used - that becomes extremely dangerous is known as a gas generator, also called a smoker bottle. This is used in the final phases of making the drug; it will usually contain drain opener and common table salt. The acid in the drain opener along with the salt creates a gas (hydrogen chloride), commonly referred to as hcl. These bottles will most likely have a tube running out of the top of them to extract the gas into the meth oil, this works to create the finished product. When these toxic bottles are left behind, and they almost always are, they soon begin to dissolve because of the acid contained inside of the bottle. The contents will be absorbed into the ground, and at this point the ground will be contaminated. The remains of a meth lab are going to impact the environment in a number of different ways. It is obvious that there will be both short and long term effects on the soil, water, air and vegetation.
Recently, I was alarmed when I saw a gas generator bottle that had dissolved. In the remains of the bottle there was a large amount of salt. I am an outdoorsmen and I happen to know that most wildlife is attracted to salt. I have been trying to find some information on how our wildlife and livestock might be affected if they attempted to ingest the salt left from a gas generator. I have spoken to authorities on a state level that indicated that to their knowledge this issue has not been raised. Everyone that I have talked with seemed very concerned about the possibility of this impacting our wildlife. This could also be reason for concern with aquatic life. It is not uncommon for meth cooks to throw remains of a meth lab into a creek, river or pond.
Please report any meth lab trash to law enforcement so that it can be properly disposed of.
If you suspect illegal drug activity in your community please report it online at www.muhlenbergcountysheriff.com or by calling 1-888-959-8477.
This is the final article about “meth in our community”. I hope that readers have found the articles informative and helpful. I would also like to express my appreciation to those who were willing to publish the articles each week.
If you have questions about meth related issues please contact our office at 270-338-3345.
Information provided by Sheriff Curtis McGehee (Muhlenberg County Sheriff’s Office)
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