Green Up Day participants warned to watch for needles and meth labs

Heroin and meth users are leaving hazardous materials out in the open

WATERBURY, VT - In a disturbing sign of the times, Vermont authorities are reminding those getting ready for the state's annual Green Up Day tradition on Saturday to make sure they and their kids don't accidentally handle needles or common household items which appear to have been put to use in "Shake-and-Bake" meth labs and then discarded by drug users.

Discarded needle on a guardrail post (Vermont State Police Photo)

    "The Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety would like to advise volunteers participating in clean-up activities to be wary of potential hazardous materials.  Discarded syringes are a potential biohazard and should be left in place, as well as so-called “one-pot” meth lab containers," police said Friday.

Needle on the edge of Interstate 89 (Vermont State Police Photo)

    Today's simpler, faster meth cooking methods take advantage of a dozen items that can be found in just about any grocery or hardware store but, because of the dangerous tampering involved, the innocuous looking items that they leave behind can explode or cause serious chemical burns if they are handled.  That's why police departments now turn such sites over to specialized Clandestine Lab Teams for cleanup.

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    Most often a discarded soda bottle is just soda bottle - but tell-tale signs of meth cooking include a pile of abandoned bottles filled with a brown or green sludge that have had flexible plastic tubing shoved through their caps along with lithium batteries (which may or may not have been cut open), lighter fluid, acetone, plant fertilizer sticks, liquid drain cleaning products which contain lye, large containers of table salt, and finally aluminum foil and/or coffee filters.

Abandoned one pot meth lab debris (Vermont State Police Photo)

    Police are asking anyone who does find needles or other suspicious items during Saturday's statewide spruce up to leave them in place, note the location, and, if they are at one of the more formally organize Green Up Day efforts to contact their group leader, or to simple report the location to their local highway department or police department to arrange for proper disposal.

Needle in front of the Windsor County Courthouse in White River Junction this January (Eric Francis Photo)

In April, Hartford Police Officer Simon Keeling and Chaplain Dale Pushee checked out a report that needles had been found under the Lehman Bridge in downtown White River Junction. (Eric Francis Photo)

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