War on meth heads to the dumpster in Clinton

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It's just a padlock on a Clinton, Iowa, dumpster. But these days, it's also a tool in the war on meth.

"It looks like they've been able to install this bar to be able to lock the dumpster," said Kristin Huisenga, executive director of Gateway ImpACT Coalition in Clinton.

Dumpsters are becoming dump sites -- trash cans for so-called "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" meth labs, which involve common containers like pop bottles that are loaded with toxic ingredients.

"They could have leaked, or there could be a vapor coming from the bottles," Huisenga said. "If someone wants to open a dumpster, they could actually be overcome."

As meth cases multiply around the region, this problem is getting worse.  That's prompting a call for protection.

"We're encouraging business owners or apartment complex owners even to put a lock on their dumpster," she said.

Since January, Clinton County authorities have discovered some 18 meth lab locations and from those, they could also find dozens of one-pot labs.

"This is one of the things they would use in meth making," Huisenga said.

Huisenga showed us everyday materials used in meth labs.  The meth-making items tossed into dumpsters that become expensive to clean up.  Just one meth lab can cost more than $3,000 to clean up.  Clinton County's bill is topping $20,000 this year.

"Because these one-pot meth labs are so small now, I think we're probably just scratching the surface," Huisenga said.

When coming across any suspicious materials, Huisenga says you should be sure to leave the area and report it to authorities. That's because meth-making can lead to explosions, fire and pollution.

The dumpster lock is a small investment that can prevent much more expensive problems. It's a lock for the entire community.