Pubdate: Mon, 25 Aug 2008
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Janis Ramsay
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Just because the plants are gone from a residential marijuana 
grow-op, doesn't mean the cleanup is done.

There's a secondary cleanup that takes place, and that's the one that 
has a local man worried.

Barrie's Dave Clark, a Toronto-area firefighter and an educator with 
Meth ID, said deadly chemicals leach into the very fibers of a home 
when it has been used as a marijuana grow-op or a clandestine lab.

It's in the carpets, curtains and even the drywall. Clark thinks 
provincial laws should be in place to protect families moving into these homes.

"Especially those with young children. Their internal organs aren't 
mature enough to excrete the chemicals through their bodies," said Clark.

He's not only concerned about people manufacturing or growing drugs 
in homes, but also in other areas like mini storage units.

"You don't have to disclose what your intentions are, and the 
chemicals can leach out under the door, into the next unit."

Hotel rooms can even be used to produce methamphetamines, and Clark 
said that's one reason why he never uses the coffee pots - an item 
that can be used to make it.

"I also always bring flip flops to wear around the room."

Since gaining knowledge of the chemical byproducts involved in the 
drug trade, police have become more cautious when cleaning a scene.

"Look at the Molson Brewery bust. No one who responded was wearing 
any protective gear. Now we have a tactical team that wears haz-mat (outfits)."

And, at last week's marijuana busts at two city residences, police 
wore respiratory masks and gloves before touching the plants.

Clark's point comes on the heels of Orillia's new bylaw that makes 
landlords responsible to pay for cleanup costs after a grow-op is 
busted. However, there isn't a provincial standard that 
municipalities must adhere to before a home goes back on the market. 
There is no final inspection performed or a bill of good health issued.

When asked what the standard should be, Clark said Niagara Falls has 
a good example in place. Jim Jessop is Niagara Falls' assistant fire 
chief and said his standards are tough, but he'd rather protect a 
family moving into a former drug home than be too lenient on criminals.

"I'd rather be sued and defend our actions in a court of law than to 
face a family whose child gets sick because we didn't ask for enough. 
We're not going to put a family in danger for any reason."

After a bust, Jessop said he waits for the property owner to call 
him. Much like in Orillia, property owners pay for the remediation.

While there isn't a specific bylaw in place, building code and fire 
code standards must be met. "We have an approved list of 
environmental companies that meet North American standards in the 
province. We do not allow someone who's taken a six-week course to 
clear a building for us."

Walls might look OK on the outside, but mould could be growing 
behind, he said. And a building inspector isn't going to test for 
aspergillus or staphylococcus.

"There are a large number of issues that have to be identified when a 
municipality's going to correctly tell a family the building's safe. 
There's boroscope testing, humidity readings, electrical inspection 
or gas-fired appliance inspections that are (usually) altered where 
they bypass the furnace or hot water tank.

"No one's getting back into this house until all the strict 
guidelines are met. We also set a strict timeline. If, after 90 days, 
they haven't completed the work or shown due diligence, the City of 
Niagara Falls will demolish the building. We've demolished six so far."

And Jessop enjoyed watching the buildings go down.

The city's had close to $1 million in fines levied from criminals, 
including seven jail sentences for violations of the fire code, said Jessop.

The tough standards have paid off. In Niagara Falls, the number of 
residential drug busts has gone from 30 to 50 a year, to seven or 
eight this year.

He's upset the province hasn't created a standard that homes have to 
live up to.

Jessop has seen the damage that can be done from a drug lab or 
marijuana grow-op.

When asked why the fire department is involved in a residential drug 
bust, he said they always support police.

Locally, deputy fire chief Dave Forfar said the department is meeting 
about the problem with residential grow-ops.

"We're having a meeting Sept. 17 to talk about what to do with 
marijuana grow-ops with members of the Fire Marshal's Office because 
it's becoming more and more prevalent."

The city clerk's office, fire department and police will sit down and 
discuss how to deal with it.

"We're in the infancy here. We will be attacking this problem here in 
the next two months or so," Forfar said. 
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