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Illegal Drug Manufacturing Sites

Revised: June 7, 2021

Table of Contents

Contamination from making or smoking illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine (meth, ice) may be a health risk to current and future building occupants as well as a significant problem and liability for property owners. These pages provide helpful information on contamination from methamphetamine drug use and manufacturing. Please note that methamphetamine contamination resulting from drug use only is not monitored or tracked in the Department’s list of illegal drug manufacturing facilities.

The Problem

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, crank, or crystal, is a powerful central nervous stimulant with a potential to cause drug dependency. An illegal methamphetamine (meth) lab is one which is set up to manufacture this illegal drug. The methods used to produce meth incorporate a variety of chemicals, including explosives, acids, corrosives, solvents, metals, and salts. The manufacturing process produces other compounds and by-products. The fumes/vapors and potential spills resulting from the process are considered harmful.

The manufacturing of any illegal drug presents a hazard to the public. Unlike other illegal drugs, however, meth is easily made in small quantities with commonly available ingredients, and the manufacturing process does not require specialized equipment or skill. Small labs can easily be located in homes, motels, boats, or even in the back of a car. The risk of fire or explosion is very high. Even after the gross contamination is removed from a residence, building materials and furniture may absorb contaminants and, in some cases, give off fumes. This residual contamination may be a concern because of chronic low-dose exposure, especially to small children.

Property owners are responsible to ensure the proper cleanup and testing of an illegal drug manufacturing site. They must also bear the costs. DEC strongly encourages the hiring of qualified cleanup contractors to conduct cleanup and decontamination of the property.

How is a Site Identified?

A law enforcement agency or agencies will conduct enforcement action on suspected illegal drug manufacturing sites. They will:

  • Determine if a property has been used as an illegal drug lab,
  • Remove gross contamination needed as evidence from the illegal drug lab site, and
  • Post the property as unfit for habitation.

Alaska Law for Property Owners

Note: A person, who knowingly transfers, sells, leases, or rents a meth lab property that has not been determined to be fit for use is in violation of AS 46.03.510. This violation is a class A misdemeanor. Persons convicted of a class A misdemeanor can be sentenced up to one year in jail and/or fined up to $10,000.

An increase in clandestine methamphetamine drug manufacturing labs in Alaska provided the impetus for passage in July 2003 of legislation relating to the evaluation and cleanup of sites where certain controlled substances may have been manufactured or stored. Requirements were promulgated into Alaska Statutes (AS 46.03.500 through AS 46.03.599).

This law provides a way for property owners impacted by the manufacture of illegal drugs to have their property declared fit for use after being cleaned. DEC adopted regulations to spell out the mechanisms for evaluation and cleanup of illegal drug manufacturing sites, in (18 AAC 79). These regulations include provisions which:

  • Establish "fit for use" standards for properties cleaned up.
  • Identify methods for analysis of environmental samples collected from affected sites.
  • Describe site cleanup guidelines to be used by affected property owners or their contractors.
  • Maintain a list of the properties that the Alaska Department of Public Safety has determined to be illegal drug manufacturing sites (not drug use sites).
  • Establish and maintain a list of analytical labs in the state that are to be used to evaluate samples taken by the property owner or their contractors.
  • Specify protocols for handling the samples before analysis to ensure that they are not compromised.

Cleanup Resources

Cleanup Requirements and Guidance For Illegal Drug Manufacturing Sites

Available below is DEC’s Guidance document for detail on the cleanup and evaluation of building interiors contaminated the manufacture of certain illegal drugs. A fact sheet designed for the property owner gives an overview.

Analytical Laboratory List

The analytical laboratories identified in this list may be used to perform the sample analysis required to determine whether a residence, formerly used as an illegal drug manufacturing site is fit for use.

Sampling and Decontamination Equipment Providers

The following link provides a list of sampling and decontamination equipment providers. These companies may do sampling or offer decontamination equipment for rent. The list is not meant to be comprehensive or an endorsement of any company.  Firms that wish to be added to the list may contact the Contaminated Sites Program.

Additional Information

Illegal Drug Lab Decontamination and Certification Frequently Asked Questions

Program Contact

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