INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Wendy McNamara knew methamphetamine was a scourge on her district in southwestern Indiana, even if it paled in comparison to Decatur County, which ranked fifth in the state for meth lab busts in 2012.
But the damaging effects of the drug really hit McNamara when she met a real estate appraiser who’d suffered lung damage after visiting a meth-contaminated house.
The appraiser had no idea the house was once the site of a clandestine drug lab. Gone were the containers of chemicals used to cook the meth, but left behind were the toxic contaminants that permeated the carpets, walls, drains and ventilation.
That appraiser now carries protective breathing gear when he’s on the job, but McNamara thinks he and others need more protection.
The Posey County Republican plans to introduce legislation to increase public disclosure requirements for properties contaminated by meth labs and to give local officials more authority to force quicker cleanup of those properties.
“We have to find a way to protect us from people who use meth and who don’t care about anybody else,” McNamara said.
Meth labs are a big problem throughout Indiana, state data shows. The state came in a close third in the nation in 2012 for the number of meth lab busts, at nearly 1,700. State police say the state is on pace for nearly 1,900 meth lab busts this year.
In the days and weeks to come, the Greensburg Daily News will take a closer look at the epidemic in Decatur County, which had 59 labs busts last year. Only Monroe, Madison, Delaware and Vanderburgh counties had more busts than Decatur.
The state doesn’t track how many labs statewide are located in homes, but police say that’s where many are located. That’s because the vast majority of homemade meth is now concocted by mixing pseudoephedrine and other ingredients in a soda bottle – the so-called “one-pot” method – which makes it simple to manufacture on a kitchen counter or bathroom sink, police say.