Are You Living in a Meth-Contaminated Property and Don’t Know It?

by jhwygirl

It’s possible, it happens, and Rep. Mary Caferro wants to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.

I gotta tell ya’ – I heard the testimony at last Friday’s hearing in House Judiciary on HB401 and I was shocked. There are meth-contaminated properties out there – rented and sold – that are obligated to be cleaned up (they’re DEQ violations, for one), that renters and new property owners aren’t aware of. Imagine buying a home, only to find out 3 years later, with a DEQ notice, that the property is being placed on a list of contaminated properties that needs to be cleaned up to the tune of $20,000. That you’ve been living in it or your children have been living in it?

Whoa. Right?

There’s even a list out there, on the DEQ website, of contaminated properties – and I read through that list last Friday.

Now – it’s convenient, don’t you think, that the link to the list of contaminated properties – required to be posted by DEQ by 75-10-1300 MCA – isn’t there as I write this? That the list is missing at a time when people really should be aware that there are a whole hell of a lot of properties, around the state – including a whole bunch in Missoula and Great Falls – that are contaminated enough to be listed on a DEQ website?

UPDATE: Thanks to JC, from the comments, here is the link from DEQ that works: Meth Contaminated Properties List.

Get this – 3333 Brooks was on that list. That one stood out to me because Brooks Street isn’t exactly a residential area, so I hit google..and what was 3333 Brooks? The Brooks Street Motor Inn.


It’s unfortunate that you all can’t check that list out tonight – but perhaps someone will give a call to DEQ tomorrow and tell them to fix that link?

Meanwhile – HB401 is set for hearing tomorrow before House Appropriations, after having passed a 2nd reading on the floor. With bipartisan support, I might add.

Let’s hope that bipartisan support extends through the House Appropriations committee. In fact – let’s make sure of it.

Please contact the House Appropriations committee and tell them that HB401 is an important bill to support. That allowing contaminated properties to be utilized without enforcement and reporting mechanisms should not be allowed with the hazard to health that they present.

Jon Sesso(Chair)
Cynthia Hiner (Vice Chair)
Walter McNutt (Vice Chair)
Duane Ankney
Dennis Getz
William Glaser
Ray Hawk
Teresa Henry
Roy Hollandsworth
Galen Hollenbaugh
Llew Jones
Dave Kasten (you need to use the online form to contact him)
Bill McChesney
Robert Mehlhoff
Penny Morgan
Bill Nooney
Carolyn Pease-Lopez (you need to use the online form to contact her)
Don Roberts (you need to use the online form to contact him)
Cheryl Steenson
Dan Villa

This hearing starts at 10 a.m. Maybe DEQ can fix that link before then?

Note, Missoulians, that Rep. Bill Nooney is on that you might want to send him a separate email reminding him that there is quite a number of Missoula properties that are contaminated – including one that is a hotel room. Remind him, too, that allowing people to buy, sell, and rent contaminated properties is not something that you want to see him facilitate. Tell Nooney to say YES to funding HB401.

If you are not able to get an email out, you can call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire House Appropriations committee. You can also leave individual messages for individual legislators. Up to 5 at a time, I think. Make sure to mention the bill, by number (HB401). Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462. The Session Information Desk opens at 7:30 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m.

Callings easy, folks. Those legislative staffers are some of the most helpful pleasant state employees I’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t take more than 120 seconds to help make a difference.

  1. JC

    It seems that they’ve replaced the pdf with a database.


  2. JC

    I guess I should have added the link to the parent site: Montana Meth Cleanup Program (MCP). Lots of good info there, too.

  3. klemz

    “Get this – 3333 Brooks was on that list. That one stood out to me because Brooks Street isn’t exactly a residential area, so I hit google..and what was 3333 Brooks? The Brooks Street Motor Inn.”

    And you’re surprised?

  4. Charles

    Your Governor has decimated the capabilities and morale at the DEQ to a point where they are YEARS behind on basic tasks. If you think the Meth problem is big ,check out the list of contaminated properties from dry cleaners, old underground storage tanks, abandon mills, dumps and the like. I’d bet if you live in the urban core of any Montana city you are less then 1 block away from a property that the DEQ is aware of or investigating or has “cleaned Up” or suspects but doesn’t have staff to check into it. Hell, there is a distinct possibility that you are surrounded by contaminated properties. Seriously.
    I’ve stated it before, Schweitzer is ALL talk and not action and the DEQ is a mess. Doesn’t matter what the problem is if it isn’t advancing his BS political aspirations he doesn’t touch the issue. I’m an independent, voted Democrat this year and have no axe to grind. Talk to some DEQ staff and in confidence. They will fill you in, Schweitzer is all BS and if your honest with yourself you can hear it in his speeches and see it in his lack of followthrough.

  5. Charles

    Took a moment and actually read the bill and have one recommendation.
    To protect innocent motel owners, landlords and property buyers and sellers the DEQ needs to have a Mandated time limit to remove the cleaned up property from ” the list of death”. I would suggest giving the DEQ 24hrs to clear the paperwork and remove the property listing, and hope that the DEQ wouldn’t stretch it out for weeks. This sense of urgency would allow motels to rent, tenants to move in and property sales to move forward without what will otherwise be the usual bureaucratic delay.

  6. “…and what was 3333 Brooks? The Brooks Street Motor Inn.”

    The Brooks Street Motor Inn: come for the continental breakfast, stay for the meth.

  7. klemz

    I totally understand this problem. I mean, once you knock over the apparatus and the meth spills into the soil it’s like red wine on white carpet.

  8. JC

    The crazy thing about the list is that it isn’t even complete. I was looking at the house across the street from me last year as a possible lease-option, and the owner showed me the basement, and mentioned that there had been a meth lab in it. There was still some random evidence of it being so–it had never been cleaned. And it hasn’t been cleaned since. Yet it isn’t listed on the database. Whaddup wit dat? Needless to say I never followed up with the owner about the lease-option.

  9. Joe

    I was looking at the meth contaminated list and i printed out the properies that were contamintated. I drove to every one of them on the list im my area and every one of the houses were being lived in. At first i thought that the list was out dated or there was just some kind of mistake because i thought that no one could live in a conatminated property in less it was cleaned up. But now that i see this web sight i know that people are living in these houses. Im all for a bill that says these properties need to be cleaned up before they are resold or lived in.

  10. Bandito

    Being familiar with the cleanup process in Montana, I’d like to clarify or answer some of the previous comments. In its current form, the only way a property becomes listed on the DEQ site is if it was specifically busted by law enforcement and the site contained meth lab chemicals or paraphernalia. The house JC came across was never busted, will never be listed and DEQ has no interest or jurisdiction in it. Once a property is listed, there is nothing that says it can’t be rented or sold. If it is sold, and the owner knows it’s contaminated, they MUST disclose the contamination, or risk being liable for cleanup and remediation ($20-50K). If it’s rented, ethically the landlord should notify the renter, but then it would never be rented by anyone–there is no legal disclosure for renters. One might get the impression, the bottleneck in cleanup lies with DEQ, but it actually lies with the property owners. When DEQ notified 260+ folks in 2005 that their properties were seized as meth labs, all H*** broke loose, but in the end, money for cleanup and the owner’s interest in cleaning it up leads the process. It is solely the owner’s responsibility to cleanup a property. Insurance companies typically don’t cover meth claims, so cleanup is out-of-pocket. Do you have $20 grand laying around? No. So, why bother. Many of these owners have paid for cleanups, and clean properties are no longer on the list because the hazard was removed. DEQ has one person to monitor the program and review all the paperwork for a cleanup. It’s a technical process (read the ARM & MCA regs). At any given time, there is about a 2-week backlog–the idea of a 24-hour turnaround is simply not feasible for any reason. The property list, regulations, and time to process it is there for a reason–protect the public! Meth is a big issue and there are many problems with the regulations. For every listed property, there are between 5-7+ properties that are equally contaminated, but will never be listed. HB401 sought to change the way a property became listed by changing the words to “use, presence, or processing” of meth. If it had passed, getting busted with a meth pipe in your house or apt would create a listed property. It would have added an additional 200+ properties to the list each year! The worst thing about this is that it is happening right now and you will never know it unless you get your current or prospective property tested to find out. In the end, the real problem lies with meth users who don’t care and unethical property owners who don’t care who they endanger. Schweitzer & DEQ are working toward a solution. Ultimately, money talks…

  11. jeff

    my residence sits next to a property where there has been several meth-related offenses but a lab has never been “found” in the residence. This inspite of personally seeing propane tanks, glass aquariums etc. being brought into the home. The property is currently comdemned for different reasons. There is a documented history of many persons living in and visiting the home which all have been convicted of distribution and or possession of meth and this history spans eleven years. Yet although the property is condemned and the house SITS WITHIN FIVE FEET OF THE WALL OF MY HOUSE since “a lab has never been found” no moves have been made to even test the property. To close for comfort to even risk the health or well-being of my children or myself. Furthermore in a recent meeting with public officials, one such official informed me that the property owner “is a good lady” and further action at this point would be unfair. I guess i wouldn’t have been as irritated if he would have simply stated that the law limits any further action especially since this good lady’s son was a major offender from this property and you guessed it, he is in federal prison for distribution of meth as is the last “tenant”. In talking to the DEQ prolonged meth use in a property is just as contaminating as a lab. I know my situation is common in probably every community in the nation. I don’t have all the answers to this and would much rather be part of the solution but i have had to many roadblocks anywhere i have turned. One thing is certain is that noone should ever live in that property nor should my children ever live that close to it but as soon as the plumbing is fixed, life goes on and was there ever a meth problem for eleven years there?

  1. 1 2009 Legislative Session: Week 8 (Part I) « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] meth-contaminated properties and is geared toward providing protections for renters and homebuyers. I blogged about this just a few days ago – and in case you missed that piece, just go and check this list out, which not only lists […]

  2. 2 Various & Sundry for the Weekend « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Department sufficient resources to address things like unregulated dumps and the huge backlog of meth contaminated properties and the inefficiencies and complete failure of the DEQ to address open-cut mining issues and […]

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