Meth tests conducted at Shelby County mobile home after family forced to move

Lewis said that after the November 2012 meth lab bust, the property had been flagged by the county health department. (WISH photo)

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Test results could confirm later this week whether methamphetamine residue still exists inside a mobile home that was not supposed to be occupied but that was home to an Indiana woman and her family.

Karen Hoyt and her loved ones were forced to move out of their trailer in the Hilltop Village community last week after the Shelby County Health Department informed them that their home had previously been used as a meth lab and that it may still contain “toxic residue.”

The Shelby County Health Department sent Karen Hoyt a letter in mid-December stating that she and her family – including two grandchildren – would have to move out before the end of the month.

Hoyt’s problem highlights a larger issue – that Indiana’s storied struggle with meth continues to create ripple effects in communities.

A copy of that 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.”

A state police report, obtained by I-Team 8, shows that investigators found corrosive materials both inside and outside of the home during November 16, 2012 bust.

You can read that report here.

Shelby County Environmental Health Director Robert Lewis said Wednesday that: “This one just fell through the cracks, unfortunately. And it’s been unfortunate that they let someone move in here.”

Lewis said that after the November 2012 meth lab bust, the property had been flagged by the county health department.

But after a previous owner died, Lewis said, the property management at the mobile home community did not have a record showing it had been professionally treated nor did managers have a certificate from the health department that it was safe to be inhabited.

I-Team 8’s repeated calls to the property manager seeking comment were not returned.

When asked if any of the responsibility belonged to the Lewis or his department, he said: “Well we did have a tag on it. It was closed. The park was aware.”

Hoyt told I-Team 8 that she and her family moved out last week after living in the trailer since September.

Through the help of local charities, they found a new home in Shelbyville, Hoyt said.

“As far as this mess, it’s brought my family and I closer,” she said.

Hoyt said she had heard about the 2012 meth lab after living there roughly a month but it wasn’t until the county’s health department confirmed the news to her in December that Hoyt and her family were forced to move.

Crisis Cleaning, a contractor that specializes in meth lab clean ups across the state, sent one of its testers to the trailer on Wednesday.

James Plessinger said he collected samples from several rooms in an effort to determine if the toxic meth residue still existed inside the home. Plessinger said the lab results would take at least two days to be returned.

“When it’s been cooked or smoked into a house, the meth residue will seep into the floors and walls and contents and everything. and it makes it really unsafe to live,” Plessinger said. “It measures in micrograms… of methamphetamine residue per 100 square centimeters. And if it’s above .5,  that’s the state limit so it’s unsafe.”

Meth lab cleaning can run between $5,000 to $6,000. Plessinger said it depends on the size of the structure.

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.

Check out reported meth homes in your area on the Indiana State Police’s database by clicking here.

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