How Hazmat Crews Handle Meth & Drug Labs

By  | 

After a daylong investigation Monday, hazmat crews uncovered a meth lab at an apartment complex in downtown Lincoln. Tuesday, crews gave us an inside look at what it takes to identify the drug.

It took crews at least 7 hours to investigate the scene, time the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department says is necessary when handling hazardous materials.

"You don't know what you're going into at the time," said Environmental Health Supervisor, Nancy Clark. "It's important to identify as soon as possible what kind of risks might be involved, whether it's safe for people to be in that environment or not."

Before crews even went inside the apartment, monitoring devices were used to determine if the building was safe.

"The hallways were monitored, there were not readings that were obtained from those monitors, so the risks were inside that particular unit," said Clark.

Once they identified the danger was specific to one apartment, crews made sure they were suited up in proper gear.

"You're going to wear a suit that's going to protect you from any of the vapors or chemicals that you will encounter on the way in," said Clark. "You're going to wear self-contained breathing apparatus."

Chemicals like ones found in the apartment can be hazardous to your health, that's why crews took out items one by one to assess their risk.

"People that are involved in meth manufacturing aren't necessarily handling these chemicals in a way that they would handle them if they were in a controlled setting," said Clark. "There's respiratory hazards, they're toxic to your system. They can burn your skin, they can cause a fire."

Clark says the couple used the "cold cook" method with anhydrous ammonia commonly used when when making meth in Nebraska. While the method doesn't require heat, the risks still exist.

"The dangerous thing is that, every now and then, there is a new method that's developed, and so we just try to stay current with what is going on in the community," Clark said.

Justin Kues and Shane-Marie Collins are being held today without bond. They're first scheduled court date is set for Wednesday afternoon.