The mountains and valleys of West Virginia. Photo taken from the observation tower at Pipestem State Park.
The Great Seal of West Virginia.
Ariel view of Meadowfill Landfill, Harrison County, WV. Earth Day, WV State Capitol, 2006. Electronics collection/recycling event, Home Depot, Teays Valley, WV. The Raleigh County SWA Recylcing Center.

Solid Waste Management Board Administration


West Virginia's Latest Environmental Hazard

Methamphetamine Labs

Identifying Meth Labs

Methamphetamine labs create health hazards for both rural and urban areas. Many producers prefer remote locations but not all. While many urban labs are setup for long term production, an increasing number are created as temporary facilities in places such as hotel rooms, rental trucks and campers. Other possible locations include houses, apartments, mobile homes, warehouses, motor vehicles, outdoor fields and wooded areas.


According to the National Drug Intelligence Digest, "indicators of clandestine laboratory activity include the following:

  • Strong odor of chemicals in the area similar to the that of fingernail polish remover or cat urine;

  • Complaints from neighbors about strange smells coming from the property;

  • Heavy fortification, such as bars on the windows;

  • Residences with windows blacked out;

  • Suspicious automobile traffic and visitors to the site - people coming and going at unusual times. There may be little traffic during the day, but at night the activity increases dramatically;

  • Chemical cans or drums in the yard;

  • Excessive trash including items such as: antifreeze containers, coleman fuel containers, drain cleaner, lantern fuel cans, red chemically stained coffee filters, batteries, drain cleaner and duct tape;

  • People leaving the building to smoke;

  • Open windows in cold weather;

  • Renters who pay their landlords in cash. (Most drug dealers trade exclusively in cash);

  • Unusual amounts of clear glass containers being brought into the home.

The items listed on the "What's Methamphetamine Made Of" page are often found in plastic grocery bags that have been tied shut and thrown on the side of the road. Opening the bags can result in burns, blindness and serious health problems. They may even explode. Leave the bags where they are and contact local law enforcement. After calling the police, notify the Department of Environmental Protection at the number listed below.


For each pound of finished product, these labs typically have five to six pounds of hazardous waste left over which is most always disposed of inappropriately. Sometimes it's buried or taken to remote locations. Sometimes it's just flushed down the toilet. These wastes can sterilize soil and poison local water tables. Dumping it down the drain can contaminate municipal sewage systems reacting with chemicals used in treatment plants.


The Shake and Bake method doesn't produce a lot of odor or a lot of solid waste. The waste they do produce is often tossed out of the window of a moving vehicle. The two liter bottle used in the manufacturing process contains a poisonous brown and white sludge.  According the WV DEP, meth waste is "often found in plastic grocery bags that have been tied shut and thrown on the side of the road. Opening the bags can result in burns, blindness and/or serious health problems. They can even explode." 

If you suspect someone is operating a methamphetamine lab in your neighborhood, in a vehicle or anywhere else2, or have found a possible disposal site for methamphetamine lab leftovers, do not go near it - call the police. Once the lab is shut down or leftovers are found, the officer in charge should notify appropriate government agencies including the WV DEP at  (800) 642-3074.

Meth Home


West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV  25304
Phone: 304-926-0448
Toll Free: 866-568-6649
Fax: 304-926-0472