Understanding “ICE” drug labs

Each clandestine drug laboratory is a ticking time bomb: a volatile mix of chemicals, vapours and toxic waste combined with dangerous manufacturing practices often conducted by unskilled amateurs; and this could be happening in a property near you.

Commander of the NSW Police Force’s Drug Squad, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said Ice labs could and sometimes did blow up, causing serious injury and, in some cases death, but that wasn’t the only risk.

“Each year we locate and dismantle up to 100 clandestine drug laboratories, and these places are so contaminated that we often can’t go in without full-body protective equipment and breathing apparatus,” Det Supt Cooke said.

“As well as the risk of fire and explosion, each Ice laboratory creates a huge amount of toxic waste which is often stored onsite or disposed of nearby.

“The drug manufacturing process also creates fumes which leech into floor coverings, leave scum on walls and ceilings and pollute the soil.”

Properties where clandestine drug laboratories have been located often need professional remediation to make them safe for habitation, costing tens of thousands of dollars. Some homes have been so badly contaminated that the only solution is for the property to be demolished.