Secret suburban meth labs fuelling the ice scourge leave behind costly mess for innocent homeowners

INNOCENT homeowners are being forced to shell out up to $80,000 to clean and refit rental properties which have been turned into clandestine methamphetamine labs.

As the ice scourge spreads through Victoria, the call for specialised meth lab decontamination is growing.

Operators say some homes need to be stripped back to the wall studs to rid them of invisible toxic chemicals, sometimes costing more than $70,000. And for some, the bill is not covered fully — or at all — by their insurance.

“For many properties the levels (of methamphetamine) are so high to begin with, because the property has been used for that activity for a long time, that we will take out the kitchen, the bathroom, the cabinetry, anything that will trap those organic contaminants and a lot of the plaster on the internal framework will be removed,” Dr Cameron Jones, owner of Biological Health Services, said.

Meth lab cleaners say they have tested and cleaned hotel rooms, factories, rental properties and repossessed homes.

For some owners of rental properties, the first sign that their property has been used as a meth lab comes with a prohibition notice from council ordering a clean-up.

Steve Penn, from TACT Bio-Recovery, said he had done clean-ups of clandestine meth labs in tiny country towns, in a high-rise apartment and in the suburbs.

“It is not just a general clean — it’s catastrophic,” Mr Penn said.

He said discovering their property had been used as a meth lab was devastating for landlords.

He said the chemicals used often ate away at light switches and corroded taps and fittings, as well as contaminating plaster, roof insulation, carpets, curtains and contents.

He had even heard of boats being used as meth labs.

Dr Jones said the clean-up cost could be more than $70,000 but averaged $20,000 to $25,000.

“These gaseous vapours tend to go everywhere in a home,” Dr Jones said.