Meth lab discovered on Conn. River

HINSDALE, N.H. — A hazmat crew spent late Monday night into the early morning hours of Tuesday cleaning up a suspected methamphetamine lab on the banks of the Connecticut River.

According to Hinsdale Police Chief Todd Faulkner, law enforcement first heard about the lab from crews cleaning up campsites for the summer.

"We coordinated with New Hampshire Fish and Game and located the meth lab on the riverbank, quite a way into the woods," he said.

The campsite is one of the sites made available by TransCanada for people traveling the Connecticut River on multi-day trips, said Faulkner, and each year around this time, TransCanada hires crews to clean up the sites and get them ready for visitors.

"It was what is called a 'one-pot lab,'" said Faulkner. And even thought it was just a couple of plastic bottles and some tubing, he said, the chemicals used to make methamphetamine, when combined, can be very volatile and dangerous. "This is the first lab we have found along the river. It was created within the last 20 days or so.

"We contacted the N.H. State Police Bomb Unit which put us in contact with the Drug Enforcement Administration that dispatched a hazmat team from the Seacoast area," said Faulkner.

He also told the Reformer that evidence left at the scene has helped his department and the DEA develop some leads on a couple of suspects. Faulkner said law enforcement is aware of a significant population of transients and drug users who hang out along the river during nice weather. "We are going to increase patrols along the river this year," he said. "We've been in training with Fish and Game."

Faulkner said despite the discovery of the meth lab, local illicit drug use is predominantly heroin and cocaine.

"We have made arrests of people using methamphetamine," he said. "We know it's in the area."

According to the U.S. Forest Service, meth labs are often found in remote areas and can contaminate their surroundings with harmful fumes and highly explosive chemical compounds. "Meth cookers dump battery acid, solvents and other toxic materials into rivers or the ground. Much of the waste is highly flammable and explosive," USFS says on its website.

"If you find something like this in the woods or in a car — yes, people are building meth labs in their cars — get away and call law enforcement and get GPS coordinates or make sure you provide us with good directions," said Faulkner.

The Forest Service website also notes that methamphetamine waste residue can burn skin and eyes, and breathing in the gases can send a person to the hospital. The signs of a methamphetamine lab include: Unusual, strong odors like cat urine, ether, ammonia, acetone or other chemicals; coffee filters containing a white pasty substance, a dark red paste, or small amounts of shiny white crystals; glass cookware or stove pans containing a powdery residue; shacks or cabins with windows blacked out; open windows vented with fans during the winter; excessive trash including large amounts of items such as antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, engine starting fluid cans, HEET cans, lithium batteries and empty battery packages, wrappers, red chemically stained coffee filters, drain cleaner and duct tape; and unusual amounts of clear glass containers.

According to the Forest Service website, methamphetamines stimulate the central nervous system, producing excess levels of neurotoxins the brain cannot handle. "As a health concern, meth eliminates brain functions and leads to psychosis and, in some cases, deadly strokes. Other long-term effects of meth use include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, extreme anorexia, tooth decay and loss, and cardiovascular collapse and death."

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or


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