MOUNT VERNON — The scene is common enough: People in bright safety vests, carrying trash bags, are collecting trash from the roadside. Then one of the workers finds something odd: a two-liter soft drink bottle attached to tubing, for example, or maybe a propane tank or cold medicine.
It might be the remains of a meth lab. The problem is that a simplified method of making methamphetamines that uses these items produces chemicals that can cause lung damage and burns.
Crews working or cleaning along roadways are warned to watch for anything hazardous, although such finds are not common. And with the reports of a growing problem with meth labs in Holmes County and a case of items having been found in Morrow County, the possibility of meth lab debris being found in Knox County is a real danger.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber said no meth lab debris has been found along roads in Knox County, although it is possible.
“If anything has been found, it hasn’t been reported,” Barber said, “Although we’ve had our share of meth labs in the county.”
Statewide, reports of meth lab debris being found along roadsides have cropped up as a method of making meth in a mobile lab has become the primary way of making the drug in Ohio. The makers of the drug then get rid of the evidence by discarding the materials they use along the roadway. Often, on rural roads with little traffic.
Barber said that in the past he has done a presentation on meth lab awareness for the Township Trustees Association, outlining the hazards the materials represent and how to identify items as lab materials.
“The township crews are told not to handle the material, step back and notify us,” Barber said. “A HazMat team will take care of it.”