Comments Off on Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup Law Receives Initial Approval in Wildwood

The ordinance would require that property owners extensively decontaminate any property found to have housed a meth lab.

The ordinance outlining the policy received preliminary approval at a city council meeting July 22. It would be administered by the city’s St. Louis County Police unit and mandate property owners clean up any verified sites to a certain level.

At a work session discussing the ordinance, Public Works Director Ryan said meth labs were “not a frequent” occurrence in Wildwood, but it would serve as a valuable tool. According to a previous analysis by Patch, there were only two reported incidents of meth labs in the city from 2004-2012.

An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained some of the context behind the law, noting that how much danger the toxic residue left behind by meth labs poses and who should pay to clean it up has been the subject of debate.

Although 25 states have passed laws to address these issues, Missouri is not one of them. Festus and Crestwood already have ordinances similar to what Wildwood is considering on the books.

Jefferson County also has a decontamination law and Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer told the Post-Dispatch that it also serves as a tool to inform families and help them avoid moving into a former meth lab, a decision they might regret.



Wildwood gives initial OK to guidelines for cleaning up meth labs

WILDWOOD • The toxic residue left behind by meth labs has long been fodder for debate.

Who should pay to clean it up?

How extensive should that process be?

Twenty-five states have passed laws providing some detailed answers to those questions, according to the EPA.

But not Missouri.

That inaction has led a handful of cities to pass their own laws regulating methamphetamine cleanup.

On Monday, the city of Wildwood became the latest to move in that direction. The City Council unanimously gave first-round approval to an ordinance requiring decontamination of properties where meth labs have been found. Final approval is expected at a later meeting.

“It seemed like a no-brainer to have these types of precautions in place,” said Ryan Thomas, Wildwood’s director of public works.

At least two other cities — Festus and Crestwood — have passed nearly identical ordinances. Jefferson County also has a decontamination law in place.

The municipal laws have adopted requirements that contaminants are cleaned up to some of the lowest levels possible — roughly the equivalent of a single sugar packet spread over 23 football fields.

According to the EPA, 25 states have adopted similar guidelines — although some are less stringent.

But some state officials have said concerns about meth residue in homes is overblown, arguing that there isn’t enough research showing adverse health effects.

Other researchers are concerned, particularly about children who live in former meth labs because their bodies are still developing, according to the EPA.

A previous Post-Dispatch investigation found that toxic residue from meth labs can linger in a home for as many as four years and that home sellers in Missouri routinely flout the state’s law regarding the disclosure of labs to home buyers.

Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer said the Jefferson County law has just been one more tool to keep people from moving into a place they might regret.

“It helps avoid that an unknown family would move into a meth lab,” Boyer said.

The Wildwood ordinance requires police officers encountering property used as a meth lab to test if the structure is contaminated.

If the property tests positive, it will be deemed uninhabitable until the owner hires a qualified contractor to perform the remediation.

The property would then be tested by a “trained law enforcement officer” for the city.

Thomas said Wildwood — known for its large lots and expensive homes — has not experienced many meth labs inside the city limits.

“It’s pretty rare,” he said.

He knew of no property owner who would be immediately affected by the law.


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