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New law protects home buyers

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It has been proven that for every pound of methamphetamine produced, five to seven pounds of hazardous waste are left behind, which is why as of May 1, 2008, a law went into affect requiring the decontamination of a home where meth has been manufactured.

According to Controlled Substance Contaminated Property Cleanup (CSCPC) Program Support Manager Thomas Hunting there is a process that Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has to follow. Hunting said when a meth bust is made the police tape off the area and contact the Drug Enforcement Adminstration (DEA) to come and clean up any chemicals and contaminants that are left behind.

Once the materials are cleaned up, the police posts a sign on the property stating limited access, which includes the police, fire department, ADEQ and the homeowner. Hunting said the homeowner is only allowed to enter and assess the property, nothing is allowed to leave the property until it has been tested for contamination.

"ADEQ has regulated the clean-up procedure because so many people thought vacuuming and wiping things down was sufficient," Hunting said. "The property has to be tested and decontaminated by an ADEQ certified contractor."

Hunting said when a property is reported to them it goes on a list of contaminated properties. The property will not be removed from the list until decontamination has been performed and the property is cleared by ADEQ standards. "It is very costly to have a home tested and decontaminated," Hunting said. "Several of the homes have been on the list for quite some time."

Hunting said the chemicals used in manufacturing meth are things you can aquire from Walmart but when used in such a manner cause hazardous bi-products. The fumes can cause attacks on the nervous system when inhaled.

"Drapes, furniture and clothing are usually disposed of due to the contamination," Hunting said. "Anything porous is thrown out unless it is something the owner refuses to part with, then they have to pay to have it decontaminated."

Hunting said once a homeowner has complied with the decontamination process their property is removed from the list and the file destroyed. "We are stating that the property is safe to live in once we are done," Hunting said.

Hunting said there are properties that have not been reported but they have no way of knowing about them. If a property owner does not comply with the law and continues to live in the home or allow others to, the local authorities are contacted and the owner could be charged with a misdemeanor.

According to Wayne Camp of Camp Real Estate Schools, he has touched on this subject with his real estate students in the past. "Now that there is something set in stone, we will get it into our classes," Camp said. Because so many real estate agents deal with rentals and sales of homes this is something they need to be aware of.

The list of homes and other information about the law are available on the ADEQ Web site at www.adeq.state.ar.us/hazwaste/branch_pro....

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