Stage 1 – Preliminary Assessment to determine the extent of chemical contamination, liason with Local Council and Police regarding identified hazardous chemicals on site. Need for Stage-2 is determined based on the results of the preliminary assessment;
Stage 2 – If required, Detailed Assessment is conducted to determine the level of different type of contamination to facilitate preparation of cost effective clean-up / remediation strategy;
Stage 3 – Preparation of Remediation Action Plan, where we develop a specific procedure to clean-up / decontaminate and render the subject property safe for re-occupancy. Please note that remediation should be conducted by an independent and competent clandestine drug lab remediation contractor. Hibbs & Associates Pty Ltd do not conduct the remediation works, however we assist our clients in selecting a competent remediation contractor where remediation is required. The Client can directly coordinate with the remediation contractor for the cost and the remediation works based on the remediation action plan prepared by us); and
Stage 4 – Validation, where we verify that the remediation has been conducted satisfactorily in accordance with the remediation action plan and that the property is no longer significantly contaminated i.e. contamination of key marker drugs below the Australian Crime Commission Investigation Levels. Based on this assessment a Clearance Report is issued for submission to the local council / regulatory authority for review and as a confirmation that the property has been adequately remediated and verified to be safe for re-occupancy.
Clandestine Drug Laboratory Assessment & Remediation
The manufacture of illicit drugs in ‘backyard’ laboratories and residential areas is on the increase. The number of these laboratories detected nationally has risen more than three-fold in the last decade.
Clandestine drug laboratories pose risks to both public health and environmental safety. The interiors of the buildings in which the manufacturing process takes place, can become heavily contaminated with chemical residues. Chemical residues can deposit onto walls, ceilings, appliances, floors, carpets and other typical household items throughout the building’s interior. Inappropriate disposal of chemicals and reaction wastes can result in contamination of the adjacent land. The presence of chemical residues and environmental contamination from former clandestine drug laboratories poses a risk to health for building occupants and represents potential liability to property owners.
To ensure the assessment and clean-up of former clandestine drug laboratory sites is conducted in accordance with best practice and complies with the local government requirements, we use a four stage process as outlined below:
- Preliminary Investigations
- Detailed Site Assessment
- Remedial Action Plan
- Remediation and Validation
Stage 1 Preliminary Investigations
There are a number of different methods used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine depending on the availability of the precursor chemicals. In order to determine what contaminants may be present, and how the site assessment, remediation and validation should proceed, it is necessary to obtain details of the method of manufacture used. This will assist with understanding the chemistry, the precursor chemicals used and the likely reaction wastes.
The preliminary investigation involves the following:
- Contacting police to obtain available details regarding the nature of the clandestine laboratory, precursor chemicals and method of manufacture.
- Preliminary inspection of the site and any waste materials.
- Meet with the local government authority to determine their specific requirements and expectations.
- Assessment of airborne concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within the subject buildings by photo-ionisation detector (PID).
- Assessment of personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements to enter the subject buildings for the purpose of inspection and sample collection.
Stage 2 Detailed Site Assessment
The purpose of the detailed assessment is to determine the extent of the contamination within the subject buildings and soil / groundwater contamination. The detailed assessment for this project will comprise:
- Assessment of environmental (soil and/or groundwater) contamination.
- Assessment of contamination within the subject buildings.
- Categorisation of stored chemicals and reaction wastes in preparation for off-site disposal.
The assessment of soil and groundwater contamination for precursor chemicals and reaction wastes is performed in accordance with the requirements of the local consent authority.
The extent of contamination within the subject buildings is determined by a combination of visual examination, on site analysis of residues by portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF) and collection of swab samples for laboratory analysis. The requirements for laboratory analysis for the contamination will be determined following the preliminary assessment. The stored chemicals and reaction wastes, if these are found during the inspection, will be examined to determine their general chemical nature (flammable solvents, pH, etc.) in preparation for treatment and off-site disposal. At the completion of Stage 2, a report will be prepared detailing the findings of the assessment, including nature and extent of: (i) contamination within the subject buildings; (ii) soil and groundwater contamination; and (iii) generic classifications for the stored chemicals and reaction wastes, where found.
Stage 3 Remedial Action Plan
The remedial action plan (RAP) will utilise the findings of the previous assessments to determine the most suitable method for clean-up and validation of the site. The RAP will: Specify the methodology for the remediation of the subject buildings / structures. Specify the methodology for the remediation of the soil and groundwater contamination identified. Specify the PPE requirements for personal conducting the remediation works. Specify the engineering controls and decontamination facilities and procedures for the remediation process. Specify the environmental safeguards to be implemented during the remediation works. Establish remediation goals and validation criteria for the remediation works.
Stage 4 Remediation and Validation
We can assist with the selection of a suitable contractor to conduct the remediation works and Project Manage the remediation works. During and following remediation works, the validation sampling programme outlined in the RAP will be implemented to ensure that the remediation objectives specified in the RAP have been achieved. The validation study will assess the results of the post-remediation testing against the clean-up criteria stated in the RAP. Methamphetamine residues are determined by surface swab screening test. In the absence of a legislated standard, we have adopted of a clean-up standard of 0.5µg/100cm² for methamphetamine, proposed by the Australian Crime Commission. Clean-up criteria for other contaminants will be accordance with industry standards.