02.18.15

In Light of Last Week’s Bust of A Meth Lab in Local DeWitt Neighborhood— SCHUMER: FAMILIES ACROSS CNY ARE MOVING INTO HOMES ONCE USED AS METH LABS & DO NOT EVEN KNOW IT; REMNANTS OF CHEMICALS MAKE HOMES POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH – SCHUMER ANNOUNCES FIRST-EVER FED LAW REQUIRING HOMEOWNERS TO ALERT BUYERS OR RENTERS THAT HOME WAS ONCE USED TO MAKE METH

 Only 5% of Homes Used to Make Meth Are Ever Disclosed; Dozens Of Home Meth Labs Have Been Busted Throughout CNY, Including One in DeWitt Last Week, But That Only Scratches The Surface – Chemicals from Meth-making Process Seep Undetected Into Carpet & Walls; Can Cause Dry Mouth, Headaches, Nosebleeds & Breathing Problems, Especially in Children


Shockingly, Unlike Other Hazards Like Lead, There is No Fed Law Requiring Disclosure By Sellers that Know A Home Was Once Used As Meth Lab; 23 States Have Laws, But Not NY – Schumer Bill Would Require Disclosure & Create Civil Penalty for Those Who Do Not Comply; Proper Meth Lab Clean-up Can Cost Up to $10K

 

Schumer: CNY Residents Have A Right To Know If Their Home Was Once A Meth Lab

 

Today, at the corner of Winchester Road and Washburn Drive in DeWitt, down the street from last week’s bust, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced new federal legislation that would require home sellers and landlords who know a home was used as a meth lab to alert potential buyers or renters. Schumer said that families across Central New York are unknowingly moving into homes that were once used to make meth, and there is no law requiring sellers or landlords to disclose the home’s former use. Schumer said that it is critical for buyers or renters to be aware that meth was once made in their home because the chemical remnants from the meth-making process are hazardous to health and often seep into carpets and walls. These chemicals can cause dry mouth, headaches, nosebleeds and breathing problems, especially in children. It can also cost up to $10,000 to clean up, a major expense for families, once they realize the situation. Schumer’s legislation will be modeled after similar rules for disclosing the presence of lead; it will require homeowners to disclose the former use of the property when they know it was used as a meth lab and create a civil penalty for those who knowingly do not comply. Schumer noted that 23 states have enacted laws like this, but not New York, and that a strong federal standard is needed.

 

“When law enforcement officials raid a meth lab, they often wear a ‘moon suit’ to protect themselves from exposure to the chemical remnants and toxic byproducts left behind from the meth production, but the families and children moving into these former meth houses do not have the same benefit. Too often families do not find out their new home was the site of a meth lab, where these chemicals have likely seeped into the carpets and walls, until it is too late and the health consequences are overwhelming,” said Schumer. “The fact that sellers or landlords are not required to disclose that a home was formerly used as a meth lab is outrageous, and I am introducing legislation that would right this horrible wrong and require those who know their home was used as a meth lab to alert potential buyers or renters. It does not take a lab scientist to see there is a clear need for federal disclosure laws that help protect our families and children from exposure to meth-making chemicals.”

 

Schumer continued, “Meth use and production has been a serious epidemic across Central New York, and across our state and nation. Just this past week, law enforcement officials busted a meth lab right in DeWitt, a place you would least expect it, and they are likely many more that have not been discovered or disclosed. We need to do everything we can to ensure that families who are spending their hard earned dollars on a home do not unknowingly expose themselves to these harmful chemicals.”

 

Schumer explained that in the State of New York and 27 states across the country, a home seller or landlord are not required to inform a potential buyer or renter if the property was previously used as a meth lab. Schumer said this is troubling given the fact that chemical remnants from the meth-making process are hazardous to health and can seep into carpets and walls, leaving behind materials and toxic byproducts often invisible to the eye that are still incredibly harmful. These substances can include propane fuel, lithium, sodium hydroxide and solvents like benzene, acetone and hexane, all of which can have negative and lasting effects on families and children in particular. These chemicals can cause dry mouth, headaches, nosebleeds and breathing problems, among other serious health issues. Because meth production can include such a wide array of chemicals, the resulting byproducts and health risks can vary greatly, a gamble Schumer said families should not have to make. Exposure to high concentrations of solvents like acetone can cause death, while chronic inhalation of hexane can cause significant damage to the central nervous system. The byproduct benzene has been linked to anemia and leukemia in adults as well as children. A simple test can detect the presence of chemicals used in the methamphetamine production process, and Schumer’s legislation would require sellers and landlords that are aware of the presence of these materials to disclose that information to potential buyers of these homes.

 

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), approximately five pounds of toxic waste is generated as a byproduct for every pound of meth manufactured. Schumer said this means an alarming amount of chemical remnants and waste byproducts from the meth-making process could be present in homes without a new owner’s or renter’s knowledge. Schumer said this underscores the need for strong federal disclosure standards. Schumer said that it is critical for buyers or renters to be aware that meth was once made in their home because the chemicals left behind are hazardous to health. The DEA estimates that only 5 percent of homes used to make meth are ever disclosed, meaning the current number of unsuspecting buyers and renters impacted could be greatly underestimated. According to the DEA’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register, as of January 2015 there were 60 former meth lab houses between Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Madison, and Oswego Counties that have been disclosed. Schumer explained that, if only 5 percent of these homes are ever disclosed, the total number of former meth-making locations in residential homes could be over 1,200 throughout Central New York. 

 

According to reports done by Central New York area media, 2015 has already seen a series of meth-related incidents, including a bust just last week in the Town of DeWitt in Onondaga County where a man was found to be making meth in a home lab on Washburn Drive. In January, a man was arrested in Oswego County for manufacturing meth in his home lab on East Eleventh Street in the City of Oswego. Schumer said 2014 saw a similar series of busts and arrests. In October, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department arrested six people for producing meth in a lab in an apartment located on Route 41. In August, Cayuga County police charged nine people in connection with the death of a Central New York man who died as a result of a meth lab explosion three months prior; the explosion set the home as well as two nearby buildings on fire in the Town of Locke. And in February, the Madison County Sheriff's department made three arrests in connection with a raid of a meth-making lab on Devaul Road in the Town of Sullivan in Madison County. Schumer said the rise in meth production and busts in Central New York has become a major concern, but what is also concerning is that families could be moving into the homes that were previously used for meth making without even knowing it. In addition to the serious health risks associated with living in a former meth lab that is still contaminated, Schumer explained, it can also cost up to $10,000 to clean up these former meth lab homes, which is a major expense for families once they realize the situation.

 

That is why Schumer is announcing legislation that would require home sellers or landlords to disclose the former use of the property when they know it was used as a meth lab and create a civil penalty for those who do not comply. Schumer noted that 23 states have enacted laws like this, but not New York, and that a strong federal standard is needed. Schumer likened this legislation to one that requires owners and landlords who know their properties present health hazards as a result of the presence of lead-based paint to disclose this information to potential buyers and renters. Lead from lead-based paint can place pregnant women and young children at risk. Young children in particular are most at risk of developing lead poisoning and permanent neurological damage from the lead, including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and impaired memory. Schumer said that it is shocking that, unlike other hazards like lead, there is no federal law requiring the same type of disclosure by sellers that know a home was once used as a meth lab. The fine for failing to disclose lead to potential buyers or renters is up to $11,000.

 

Schumer was joined by Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick; Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway, and Dewitt Police officials who assisted in last week's bust.

  

“The problem of methamphetamine use and production is not just a concern in rural areas. Sometimes, as last week's bust demonstrates, this scourge can be found in a quiet suburban neighborhood. In order to successfully root out the production and distribution of all illegal drugs, including meth, it's imperative for law enforcement across this state to continue to work together, to share information and to coordinate our strategies. Senator Schumer's push here today, reinforces our efforts to combat illegal narcotics trafficking and it sheds light on the plight of many innocent residents who may not know that their home was once a chemical factory for making meth. As usual, Senator Schumer is out front on an issue that protects his constituents. Innocent families should have access to the full history of the place they call home,” said Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.

 

“The meth bust last week in DeWitt proves that the desire to engage in the real dangers of meth-making can occur anywhere, no specific neighborhood. That's why Senator Schumer's push for this kind of important information to be disclosed has our department's full support. Meth is a lethal drug and its production method is extremely dangerous, the chemicals to produce it equally as dangerous. Though it is not Onondaga County's most common drug, it is a major problem across Central New York as a whole, and as we saw in DeWitt, its high-risk production knows no boundaries,” said Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway.

 

“The problems of methamphetamines are always a concern in Madison County. As with any drug, it is important to try and snuff out both usage and distribution. With meth labs and meth-making becoming options many are willing to attempt, the odds are good that there are law abiding folks living in places that once housed dangerous chemicals. The Senator's push to force the disclosure of these sites to buyers and renters makes absolute sense. That's why I'm happy to support this common sense effort and our continued work with the Senator and my fellow Sheriffs to combat both drugs and addiction,” said Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley.

 

 

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