Breaking Bad may seem like a lot of fun and games, but what is often overlooked is that someone had to cleanup the mess Walter and Jesse made. The discovery of a meth lab, or the waste from one, provides law enforcement with a significant amount of hazardous waste to contain, manage, transport, and dispose. Unfortunately, the generators of the waste are not often the type that are concerned about the environment or take heed of the USEPA regulations regarding the “Cradle-to-Grave” management of hazardous waste. That leaves state and local law enforcement holding the bag and responsible for the disposal of the waste. Sometimes a small police force with a limited budget may find itself subject to the RCRA regulations as a large quantity generator of hazardous waste due to its discovery or closure of meth labs.
In an attempt to assist law enforcement the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2007 required USEPA to develop guidelines for the cleanup of meth labs and the disposal of waste associated with them. These are voluntary guidelines and are based on the best currently available knowledge in the field of meth lab remediation. A partial list of what the guidelines address includes:
- Hiring a contractor
- Worker safety and health
- Removal of contaminated materials
- Waste characterization and disposal procedures
- Detergent-water solution washing
- Outdoor remediation
- Recommended best practices for the remediation of specific materials (eg. walls, ceilings, floors)
- Methods of collecting samples from a structure to identify the presence of methamphetamine
- Additional information and resources are included in the Appendices
From the USEPA Emergency Response website (here):
Guidelines Questions and Answers:
Why is EPA publishing these voluntary guidelines?
The Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2007 required EPA to develop guidelines for remediating former methamphetamine labs. This document provides those guidelines for States and local agencies to improve “our national understanding of identifying the point at which former methamphetamine laboratories become clean enough to inhabit again.” The legislation also required that EPA periodically update the guidelines, as appropriate, to reflect the best available knowledge and research.
Who should use these guidelines?
The guidelines are geared towards state and local government personnel charged with remediating or otherwise addressing former methamphetamine (meth) labs. This document helps disseminate the best available knowledge and research on meth lab remediation and will also prove useful to cleanup contractors and could be a resource for homeowners.
Does this document create new regulations for meth lab cleanup?
EPA prepared this document based on best current practices to provide voluntary cleanup guidelines to state and local governments, cleanup contractors, industrial hygienists, policy makers and others involved in meth lab remediation. It does not set requirements, but rather suggests a way of approaching meth lab remediation. Those using this document should also consult their appropriate municipal, county or state guidance documents, regulations and statutes. This document is not meant to supersede municipal, county or state guidance documents, regulations or statutes (however this document may be useful as they develop and/or review and revise their own guidelines).
The generation of a hazardous waste, even in a legal environment such as a factory, has its own risks and dangers. Be sure you are in compliance with the regulations of the USEPA and those of your state if you are a generator of hazardous waste (Large Quantity Generator, Small Quantity Generator, or Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator). I provide the training in any format you require (Onsite, Seminar, Webinar, or Learning Management System) to ensure compliance and a happy ending.
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