Meth contamination 'could be anywhere'

By Amy McGillivray

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No home or motel room in the Western Bay is exempt from the possibility of methamphetamine contamination, according to a former P user.

The Tauranga man, who did not want to be named, has given up using P and turned to educating others about the dangers of the drug.

"It's pretty much everywhere. Everyone's on to it these days. They do it where you least expect it. Right under your nose," he said.

"I've been in places where stuff's been cooked in [Tauranga] motels. It's pretty easy to do it. It only takes one night to do it and then pack up and leave."

The man now spends his time trying to spread the word about the dangers of living in methamphetamine-contaminated houses.

Last year, police uncovered 11 P-labs in the Western Bay.

Property managers Cameron Hooper and Tonya Sarich of First National, Bethlehem and Welcome Bay, are the first real estate agents in Tauranga to have completed the training necessary to carry out tests for P contamination.

"You've only got to look at the paper to see all the labs they've busted and realise the problem is down here as well. It's everywhere," Mr Hooper said.

He said he had dealt with a number of contaminated properties in Tauranga, including one which required the landlords to gut the house and start again.

Mr Hooper said he encouraged all potential buyers to have a test done as well as suggesting landlords had their properties tested at the beginning and end of tenancies.

"If you're buying a house, you're spending $400,000 so $150 along with your building report makes sense. It's a small cost to pay for knowing your house is clean and having peace of mind."

Meth Solutions director Miles Stratford said testing was the only way to be sure a house was not contaminated.

"People who are cooking meth are getting smarter about people looking for it and they are taking steps to clean it up."

Councils currently do not have to be notified about contaminated houses so council reports alone cannot be relied on, he says.

Former Western Bay woman Robyn Vickers has suffered through the nightmare of living in a P-contaminated house.

She is faced with ongoing medical issues after a year-and-a-half living in what she believes was a P-lab.

Ms Vickers and her four children moved into a relatively-new home in Macmillan St, Katikati, in early 2008.

While moving in, she noticed all the light bulbs were missing and discovered the drains were blocked. She did not think much of it at the time but began to get suspicious when condensation from the shower brought out brown stains at the bottom of the white en suite walls.

Plumbers told her they had seen a similar problem once before in a house that was contaminated by P.

She could not convince the letting agent or landlord to have the house tested so eventually turned to the Tenancy Tribunal for help.

A year after she moved in the house was tested and came back positive in a number of rooms.

Ms Vickers said her health deteriorated while she was living in the home.

"My eyes burned all the time, I lost some of my eyesight. My throat burned all the time, I had heart palpitations, I had trouble breathing, I had insomnia and I was awake all night most nights," she said. "It's pretty nasty stuff."

Ms Vickers is currently faced with finding a new house and is worried about ending up in a similar situation.

"I'm terrified of moving. It's hard for me to afford to get a house tested before I move in."


 


Signs a P lab has been operating:


 



  • Brown stains on walls and floors


  • Missing light bulbs


  • Blocked drains


  • Unusual chemical smells


  • Numerous chemical containers


  • Stained-glass equipment and cookware


  • Numerous cold tablet packages lying around or in the rubbish


  • Chemical stains around the kitchen sink, laundry, toilet or stormwater drains


     



- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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