About a year ago someone I knew at work told me a story that suddenly seems relevant. They were from China and fairly new to New Zealand, and they were in the process of selling their house and buying another one (as we all know cunning Asian folk are wont to do). The real estate agent explained that in New Zealand they needed to pay to get their home tested for meth contamination as part of the sales process. They did, the test came back positive, and the agent then explained that they needed to get the home decontaminated at some vast cost before the house could be sold, which the estate agent was very happy to personally arrange.
It seemed like a total rort, and so the seller got another meth tester in to check for contamination. The test came back negative. They wasted a bit of time trying to make a complaint to the estate agency, but nothing happened and they sold the property through another real estate company.
Which makes me wonder how widespread that scam is and the nature of vertical integration in the meth testing/meth decontamination industry, and how that might feed into the sudden moral panic going on around Housing New Zealand homes and meth contamination:
As many as 600 state homes will need P decontamination this year, amid claims retirees are now smoking the toxic drug.
The Housing New Zealand figures, released under the Official Information Act, show the number of state homes decontaminated for methamphetamine, also known as P, has skyrocketed in the past two years.
Two years ago 28 state homes had to be decontaminated but in the first quarter of this financial year alone 174 homes were decontaminated.
In the comments to the previous post someone linked to this comment from a toxicologist at the National Poisons Center:
“When addressing problems associated with contaminated houses, we are dealing with two separate issues: a house where someone smoked methamphetamine, or a house that was used to manufacture methamphetamine.
“People living in a laboratory environment risk suffering adverse cardiovascular, respiratory and dermal effects following the exposure to organic solvents, acids, alkalis and other chemicals.
“However, people dwelling in a house where previous tenants had smoked methamphetamine, and there is some evidence of low concentrations on surfaces, have minimal risks of toxicity.
“The risks would be similar for people who live in a house that had previous dwellers who smoked cigarettes or marijuana. They will have exposure to these drugs but the concentrations will not be sufficiently high enough to cause either psychoactive or toxic effects to people who may have had inadvertent, and brief, dermal contact with these surfaces.”
Decontaminating 174 homes in four months sounds like a serious cost to the taxpayer which is, obviously a huge profit to some folks out there. And there’s the social cost that the houses are unavailable, and that the people living in houses that test positive are then being made homeless, and housed in motels, again at vast cost.
Maybe these houses are all so contaminated with toxic by-products of meth manufacture that all of these costs are totally legitimate. But that isn’t clear at all from the media coverage. It actually sounds an awful lot as if these houses are being decontaminated and made unavailable merely because meth may have been smoked inside them, which the expert quoted above specifically says poses minimal risks of toxicity.
Hopefully all of this stuff is being OIAd by opposition and media as we speak. Because it sounds like Housing New Zealand is being scammed out of (a) performing their core role and (b) a ton of our money.