Meth lab danger explored following explosion on I-10

Photo by Charles Holmes/WAFB-TV
Photo by Charles Holmes/WAFB-TV
Photo by Nathan Dewberry/WAFB-TV
Photo by Nathan Dewberry/WAFB-TV
Photo courtesy DOTD
Photo courtesy DOTD

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Methamphetamine labs are considered by police to be hazardous materials. So, when a key component in making meth was found spewing from a car along I-10 Tuesday, haz-mat crews rushed to the scene. One of our news crews spent the day looking into why the ingredients used to make meth are so dangerous.

State police say they're still not sure why the men were transporting anhydrus ammonia. Troopers say the men do not face any drug charges, but when the ammonia starting leaking from their car, which was not far from Troop A, haz-mat crews suited up and moved in. There is no known connection between the men and manufacturing of crystal meth, but Louisiana State Police take major precautions on scenes like Tuesday's because of the dangers of meth-associated chemicals. "Anytime a state police approaches a situation where there could be hazardous materials involved, first responsibility is to notify local fire departments, as well as state police hazardous response team," says Trooper Johnnie Brown.

We asked to examine any meth lab related evidence police have confiscated from other cases, but the stuff is so dangerous that the police treat those materials as hazardous. They are destroyed after photos are taken. "Those items are treated as hazardous materials and should be disposed of accordingly. It takes a great amount of skill. That's why we call haz-mat and local fire to dispose of those items," Trooper Brown says.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff says meth labs have not invaded the city to the degree that rural areas are dealing with. Meth labs give off a strong odor and are easily exposed in urban type living, but the transportation of the materials needed to make meth can easily be rolling down the street. "Just like yesterday for example, this white plume of smoke is coming out. It's a strong odor of ammonia in the air. Certainly, I'd tell that individual to stay at a good distance away and call police," says the trooper.

A number of businesses in this area, including a restaurant, were ordered to shelter in place. One of the two men inside that car remains hospitalized with chemical burns. Both of them are charged with reckless handling of a hazardous material.