More than a year after police raided a clandestine drug lab in Langley Township, a cleanup of the toxic chemicals that still contaminate the site has been ordered.
On Tuesday (May 5), Langley MLA and provincial Environment Minister Mary Polak announced a contractor will be hired to clean up the chemicals at 20668 72nd Ave. starting later this month.
A press release from Polak said the property has been determined to be a “high-risk contaminated site” and may have contaminated three neighbouring properties as well.
The site was raided on April 24, 2014, by the Surrey RCMP drug section, the RCMP “E” Division clandestine lab unit and forensic identification section as well as an asset forfeiture team and other officers.
Andrew Slemko, a 38-year-old Surrey resident, was later charged with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. His trial has yet to begin.
In April of this year, almost a year to the day after the raid, resident Diana Sampson wrote The Times to complain nothing has been done to clean up the “open toxic ditches and putrid brown sludge oozing” from the site.
Sampson said the leftover chemicals from the “huge ecstasy drug lab” have filled a neighbour’s house with chemical vapors, killed their koi fish, and caused the death of trees and bushes.
Testing of the properties near the site by the Surrey office of the ministry of environment has revealed “horrific” levels of contamination, Sampson said.
“It rains, the sludge comes, the smell comes and we are coughing,” Sampson wrote.
“We are at our wit’s end.”
The announcement by Polak said under the Environmental Management Act, the owner and tenant are responsible for the cost of cleaning up the site as well any neighbouring properties.
It said the ministry has made “repeated attempts” to get the owner and tenant responsible for the drug lab to complete the required remediation but they remain “in non-compliance.”
The ministry is currently in the process of securing a contractor for the cleanup, the statement said, with work slated to begin later this month.
At the time of the raid on the lab, Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr called it a “large scale operation.”
Sampson said the lab appeared to have been operating for several years before the raid, generating a “putrid irritating chemical stink [that] persisted for years,” and repeated complaints by residents.