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Criminal Justice Update

Ohio rolls out meth container program

Ohio is now among only about 20 percent of states across the country to implement a container program for disposing of methamphetamine lab waste, an approach recommended by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) launched the program in May.

Scott Duff has headed BCI’s Clandestine Drug Lab and Marijuana Eradication Unit since its inception in 2003. Here, he explains how the new container program works.
Where are the containers located?
There are five, all on secure property that is monitored around the clock ­— at the Columbus Police Impound Lot, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, and Ohio State Highway Patrol posts in Athens, Canton, and Lebanon. They’re easily accessible for responders across the state.
Who has access to them?
About 100 people statewide. We partner with agencies all over Ohio to not only help us respond, but to help us tear down the labs, neutralize them, and now to secure some of the waste. These are law enforcement officers certified to respond to labs by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and trained by BCI in the containers’ use. Authorized law enforcement can access container sites 24/7.
Tell us about the containers themselves.
They are all-metal containers measuring 7-foot square. The back panel blasts out in case of an emergency, and they have a ventilated floor and sides. They’re specially designed to store hazardous waste and cost about $7,000 each. BCI received them through a grant secured by the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services, which has been a great partner with us in this.
What kind of waste can be stored in the containers and for how long?
We can neutralize some of the chemicals associated with making meth. For instance, one-pot labs — which make up the vast majority of the labs we encounter — usually can be neutralized by a trained responder. If we can’t neutralize a lab, we can make it safe by separating, segregating, and delivering it here. The containers will be emptied regularly by a contractor hired by the DEA.
How are meth numbers running?
We just concluded another record year for responses in Ohio. We set a record last year with 607 labs, and we just topped that with nearly 900 labs in 2012–13. (Responses are tracked by federal fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. The official tally of lab responses in the just-concluded year is still growing.) We have conducted about 110 classes to raise awareness of meth-related issues, so it’s possible that with greater awareness, there are more reports.
For more information: To arrange training or learn more about the container program, call 855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446).