Threat of meth lab residue forces family to move

More than 1,400 meth labs across Indiana in 2014

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An Indiana woman and her family are being forced to move out of their home because it may be contaminated with methamphetamine residue leftover from a meth lab bust three years ago, according to a letter I-Team 8 obtained from the Shelby County Health Department.

A copy of the letter states:

The Shelby County Health Department recently found out that you are living in a residence that was previously vacant due to the fact it was used to manufacture methamphetamine. The manufacture of meth causes a residue that coats surfaces, absorbing into porous materials, and contaminating the forced air heaters/cooling (HVAC) system. If not decontaminated, the drug lab can leave toxic residue behind indefinitely.”

Karen Hoyt and her family have to be out by Dec. 30.

An Indiana state police meth lab database shows that Hoyt’s current residence in Shelbyville had been involved in a meth lab bust in November of 2012. Hoyt says she didn’t move in until September of 2015 and was totally unaware that the home had ever been contaminated.

A copy of a state police report states that authorities discovered corrosive acids and bases, lithium and ammonia both in and outside of the home during the Nov. 16, 2012 bust.

You can read that report here.

Hoyt’s problem highlights a larger issue – that Indiana’s storied struggle with drugs like meth continue to create ripple effects that plague those even not directly involved with the drug.

In 2014, . That figure was down from 2013, when more than 1,800 labs were discovered.

According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, property owners are responsible for all cleanup costs.

  • Failure to clean up your property leaves you open to liability for injury to others from exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • You must clean up your property before you reoccupy it, allow anyone else to occupy it, or sell it.
  • You can also get information about the inspection and cleanup of illegal drug labs from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), by calling 317-234-7937 or visiting the IDEM website.

Captain Dave Bursten, a spokesman for ISP, said generally that residences listed on the agency’s meth lab database have not been properly cleaned.

That database, which dates back to 2007, details thousands of homes, apartments or businesses that have not been certified as being cleaned within 180 days of the meth lab bust.

Properties that are cleaned are eventually removed from the list, Bursten said.

“The idea is to not blacklist properties,” he said.

No one answered the property management office at the mobile home park on Chestnut Street in Shelbyville where Hoyt has lived with her daughter, son and grandchildren since September. Hoyt said she initially learned about the meth after calling the local health department to report concerns about mold and water leaks in her trailer. It was then that the health department warned her that her current home on Chestnut Street was considered uninhabitable.

The property manager did not return repeated calls from I-Team 8 seeking comment.

“Words cannot describe the feeling of being told that your home had been used for a methamphetamine lab,” Hoyt told I-Team 8 during an interview.

Karen Hoyt says Christmas in her Shelbyville home just wasn’t the same.

“We just had no interest in the holiday,” Hoyt said.

Just ten days earlier, Hoyt was told she and her family would be forced to move. The stress has been overwhelming, she said.

The family has started a GoFundMe page in hopes of finding a new place to stay.

Crisis Cleaning, a contractor that specializes in meth lab clean ups across the state, said they can run between $3,000 to $4,000 – possibly even more. When asked if they had received a specific work order for Hoyt’s address, the company representative said the property manager at Hoyt’s mobile home complex had asked that the company not speak to reporters.

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