The Wild West of Meth Decontamination


Home based meth manufacturers aren’t the only ones benefitting from the meth epidemic. Over the last 12 months there has been an explosion of new companies purporting to be decontamination experts. Some of these cowboys are as shady as the cooks themselves and market themselves as experts after just one day’s training. These operators haven’t completed the correct training procedures, nor are they knowledgeable about Ministry of Health guidelines.

Code Green’s team have undergone an extensive two weeks of training in Salt Lake City, Utah, so they understand the full process involved in decontaminating a home, including the procedures, documentation and steps involved. This means they have the knowledge required to carry out the correct remediation plans, health and safety procedures, environmental measures, hazardous disposal and the crucial report which shows exactly where the contamination originated.

Because decontamination is a relatively new field, the industry hasn’t been regulated in New Zealand and we don’t have a national training programme and certification.  A new national standard around P-contamination testing and clean-up is expected to be introduced very soon, but this would be voluntary until the Government makes it a law. Until then, homeowners are faced with the danger of being taken for a ride.

What are the things you should expect from a credible, certified decontamination company, and what are the warning signals that you could be getting ripped off?

  • Check the costs, especially in the testing stage. There have been accounts of operators buying tests for $10 and then charging $200 to test the property or decontamination companies charging tens of thousands of dollars for work that should have been a quarter of the cost. If in doubt, seek another quote.
  • Beware of decontamination outfits going overboard when working with a property where contamination is only just above the recommended levels. There have been instances where companies have ripped and stripped a house apart; charging a considerable amount in the process, when all that’s actually been required is a chemical clean.
  • Disposing of decontaminated items is all part of the service. Sadly, some companies leave contaminated fixtures and fittings outside properties, resulting in harm to kids in the neighbourhood. At Code Green, you can feel secure that we use certified hazard facilities and hazardous waste removers to make sure we safely dispose of anything toxic.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of the ‘one stop shop solution’. You should look for a separate meth tester and decontamination company. If the testers are the same people who will do the clean-up, they have a vested interest to make sure they find meth.
  • And one size doesn’t fit all. It’s not about applying the same approach to all properties. Auckland’s unique temperature and humidity issue means the Code Green team tailors their method to your home, where it is, and what it’s made of. Getting the mix of chemicals just right is both an art and a science.

Finally, a cautionary tale: The Auckland Property Investors Association (APIA) has cited a case where a testing company had grossly exaggerated the reading by moving the decimal point in the results they provided to the property owner. APIA vice president Peter Lewis said: ‘What was actually low-level contamination which could have been caused by a user merely entering the property, read like it was the home of a 3-hatted meth cook.’