SALMON RIVER - Firefighters stood at the ready at both ends of a trailer on Matheson Drive as three RCMP officers geared up in hazmat suits and prepared to enter the residence yesterday afternoon.
The residence was a possible meth lab and the officers, with the RCMP Synthetic Drug Section and Clandestine Laboratory and Enforcement Team, sent a robot into the home first.
"The investigation is still in its preliminary stage and we don't know how big it is or who is involved," said Sgt. Al Affleck with the Bible Hill RCMP detachment, which is conducting the investigation along with the Truro Police Service.
The detachment arrested a man Tuesday night at about 7:30 and took over the trailer a half-hour later thanks to a search warrant. The property was secure overnight until officers arrived and could make their way into the trailer.
"This is rare for us," said Affleck about the possible meth lab. "It would be the first for Colchester County, and I believe the first for Nova Scotia."
After the officers checked out the trailer, they had to be hosed down by the Special Hazards Response Unit.
Const. Craig Foley was one of the officers to enter the home.
"Our initial entry was to survey the inside of the property," he said, adding the next step is to consult with a chemist from Health Canada about what was found inside the home.
"We need to consult with them about how to remove what's in there and what we're dealing with. When you're dealing with a situation such as a methamphetamine lab, the substances and chemicals can be flammable, explosive and toxic.
He said the substances have the danger of catching fire or exploding if not cared for and handled properly.
He also said it looked like people had been residing in the trailer until recently.
"From our initial observation, there was some recent activity in there."
Of the homes on Matheson Drive, about three-quarters of them are vacant and residents were notified in the morning about what was going on.
One of those neighbours said he was "fairly surprised" when he was told what was going on.
"I haven't noticed anything," said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous. "I'm fairly isolated here, but when I was told, it was the kids factor. I was concerned - not just for my kids, but there are plenty of kids around. It's a dangerous problem."
He said he was glad to see officers and firefighters were on the scene trying to dismantle the situation.
"But I don't feel secure or safe here," he added.
Foley said the gasses released from meth labs can be extremely deadly.
"If this went continually unchecked, it could pose a severe risk to the neighbours and anyone coming or going," he said.
With the investigation still in its early stages, Foley said it's too soon to say whether any hazardous waste that comes from the production of meth had contaminated anything outside of the residence.
Police were expected to be at the scene throughout the night and into today to continue the investigation.
It's unclear as to whether or not the man arrested in connection to the investigation will face any charges.
AT A GLANCE:
- What is meth: A potent stimulant to the central nervous system that's highly addictive. It's also cheap and easy to produce.
- How it's made: It's derived from decongestants and diet aids containing pseudoephedrine and "cooked" in clandestine meth labs using other chemicals, which can include lantern fuel, drain cleaner, battery acid, among others.
- How it's taken: Meth is available in pills, capsules, powders or chunks; it can be smoked, inhaled, injected or ingested.
- Some signs of a clandestine meth lab include strong odours similar to fingernail polish, cat urine or ammonia, iodine or chemical-stained fixtures in kitchen and bath, bottles or jars with glass tubing, stained soil or dead vegetation, excessive trash that includes discarded containers/packaging for cold medicine, drain cleaner, antifreeze, denatured alcohol, lantern fuel and red-stained coffee filters.
Source: SKC Inc, a world leader in air sampling technologies (www.meth-wipe.com/facts.html)