Pa Senate Proposes Meth Lab Cleanup Legislation

03.07.14 | Bob Price

Years after The Valley started fighting a rising meth problem, some former meth houses are now back on the market. But sellers can keep that history a secret. Now there is a new effort to make sure home buyers don't unknowingly end up living with dangerous leftover chemicals.

Police in hazmat suits entering a meth lab has been fairly common on the news over the past decade. But after crews leave, those houses stay. And if they aren’t cleaned, so can the chemicals used to make meth.

“It's all the chemicals that seep into to the floors and into the rugs, carpets and walls,” said Robert Rajsky of Emstar Emergency Training. “And obviously that's a hazard to anyone who would live in the home in the future.”

When property owners try to sell those houses, they don't have to tell the people moving in that there used to be a meth lab.

”The combination (of chemicals) could be carcinogenic, it could it do permanent lung damage,” said Rajsky. “Those would be the main effects.” Rajsky adds that it depends on the extent and type of the meth-making operation.

Two state senators are proposing a law requiring sellers to share that the house used to have a meth lab—and clean it up to new state standards.

"Pennsylvania is one of a few states that has no remediation law mandating property decontamination. Other states require that properties meet certain standards prior to inhabiting a dwelling," said State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) of the Northern Tier in a statement. Yaw sponsors the bill along with prime sponsor Senator John Rafferty (R-44).

A realtor serving the Northern Tier says old meth houses aren't that common on the market, but it happens.

”It usually stops the sale,” said Tom Mullen of United Country Realty. “When we find that that is a problem, they usually show up with a home inspection and then the sale is canceled.”

Currently, if you buy a home anywhere in New York or Pennsylvania, the seller has to fill out a disclosure form. It asks questions about whether the home has radon, lead plumbing, structural issues and much more. But there's nothing about Meth labs or those chemicals. That’s something the real estate seller wants added to the list.

“It would really strengthen the procedure,” said Mullen. “I think you would find most realtors would be very, very happy to see that.”

Emergency management says professional cleaners can make former meth houses safe to live in.

The proposed law would not penalize real estate agents who weren't told about previous meth labs. Like Pennsylvania, New York does not have such a law.