MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - In part one of this series, TV6 looked at what to do if you encounter a meth dump site on the side of the road or in the woods. In part two, TV6 looked into the precautions officers take to safely clean up the drugs and how much it costs.
Just some of the items in this meth response trailer are what Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) officers use to stay safe while cleaning up a meth site. Filled with everything from breathing apparatuses to flame resistant suits, the U.P. has three of these trailers packed with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment. But Upper Michigan didn't always have these resources.
"One of the big things why it was so expensive,” said UPSET Detective Sergeant Ron Koski. “Every time we'd come across a meth lab or a meth dump site, we'd have to call a special hazmat transport crew."
That’s no longer the case.
"Through the DEA and the Michigan State Police, there's been agreements under the container program in which the State Police has provided containers through DEA funding,” Detective Sgt. Koski said. “They're strategically located throughout the state and now, members of UPSET have gone through the packaging school and extra training, so that not only we can dismantle the labs but then we can package it up, and then we transport it to the containers."
The container for the U.P. is behind the Negaunee Post of the Michigan State Police. Once it's filled with all the hazardous waste from multiple meth site cleanups, it's picked up and transported, which is organized by the D.E.A.
It used to cost thousands of dollars more because without this secured storage container, pickup had to be scheduled after every meth cleanup, no matter how small.
"So instead of coming up three times a week to pick up from three labs, they'll come up once a month,” Detective Sgt. Koski said. “So the costs have cut way down."
Detective Sgt. Koski said cleanup is still expensive, mainly because of high equipment costs and overtime pay.
"Probably a dump site is a minimum of $500 every time,” Detective Sgt. Koski said. “A meth lab can be anywhere from $3,000-$5,000 by the time you do all the paperwork and all the buckets that have to be replaced because a lot of the buckets are one time use and they're anywhere from $100-$300 a piece."
"And then we have suits. A lot of our suits are one time use each and they're $150-$300 a pop," Detective Sgt. Koski said.
"We go through and wipe ‘em all down with alcohol,” Detective Sgt. Koski said of the cleanup.
"It doesn't look that bad and you think you can just throw it in some buckets,” Detective Sgt. Koski said. “All it takes is for one thing to go wrong and then everything goes wrong."