Police say discarded milk jugs and plastic bottles used to make methamphetamine have become more prevalent in the city and are putting people at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht called the contaminated plastic containers a “newer concern” that could endanger adults, young children and pets. The method has been used by meth users for several years but has become more popular recently, he said.
City public works employees are now getting trained by the Bellingham Police Department’s bomb squad and hazardous materials team to recognize gallon jugs or plastic bottles that have been used to make meth. Vander Yacht said it is the first training public works employees have received on this particular method of meth-making.
The employees are taught to recognize the hazard and contact police for assistance so that bomb technicians, who are also trained in hazmat response, can dispose of it.
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Vander Yacht said the bottles may be found in any area of the city. Most recently, two contaminated containers were found Thursday, March 12, while public works employees were cleaning a ditch at Sehome Arboretum. The group of employees received their training the day before.
The bottles often are partially wrapped in duct tape or contain aluminum foil inside. Vander Yacht said meth users will mix chemicals inside the bottles or jugs and end up with a small amount of methamphetamine. He said the products used to make meth are “extremely toxic.”
When users are done with the bottles, they often leave them in water-filled ditches.
“Once they get done, all of the chemicals that they mixed together, to them, are just garbage,” Vander Yacht said. “Meth makers and users show very little concern for others.”
Vander Yacht urged people to call police if they believe they have seen a meth-contaminated container.