Police investigate portable meth lab

PARKERSBURG – Law enforcement officials donned hazardous materials equipment Thursday morning after city sanitation workers reported they had picked up a suspected portable methamphetamine laboratory.

Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department said the contents found were determined by police to be part of a mobile meth lab. He said the products “caused smoke,” but there was no fire and the incident is under investigation.

The sanitation truck was taken to the Parkersburg Fire Department’s Liberty Street station so it could be searched for hazardous materials.

Members of the Parkersburg Violent Crimes and Narcotics Task Force donned protective masks and gloves while sorting through the trash.

It was not immediately clear from police what items were picked up or where.

Mayor Bob Newell said hazardous materials such as items related to the making of meth and discarded hypodermic needles have become a danger for sanitation and city workers.

“We are concerned about it. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these issues,” he said.

Newell said he remembers an incident when he was police chief when a trash truck caught on fire after accidentally picking up meth-making chemicals.

In 2009, a trash truck in Ravenswood caught fire and sanitation workers had to go through a detoxification process after a disposed container of chemicals exploded in the back of the vehicle.

Newell said the city purchased needle-resistant gloves for sanitation workers because of the amount of used hypodermic needles discarded in trash.

“There are other hidden dangers, and I’m sure the sanitation workers are well aware of those,” he said.