The Dim-Post

May 26, 2016

Notes on P contamination

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:06 am

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.

34 Comments »

  1. Last night on Checkpoint it was stated that the Mother of 8 (who was evicted from a state house for a period of one year, during which time she has a debt of $75K) was cleared by CYFS as not responsible for meth contamination in that state house. Still, she is in emergency housing racking up an impossible debt. So HNZ is being scammed and is scamming.

    Comment by Stephanie — May 26, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  2. But but Meth is the devil’s fumes don’t you know? Any exposure at all leads to reefer madness, satanic abuse and autism!

    Comment by Conrad — May 26, 2016 @ 9:20 am

  3. “Hopefully all of this stuff is being OIAd by opposition and media as we speak”

    It is good that this remains a satirical blog.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — May 26, 2016 @ 9:22 am

  4. ” in the first quarter of this financial year alone 174 homes were decontaminated.”

    I’ve been wondering about this too. I read somewhere recently that only a very small proportion of beneficiary job-seekers had tested positive for drug use.While I accept that the two populations aren’t necessarily the same, nevertheless the broad picture suggests that the problem is being overstated, and there’s a bit of a moral panic here. And some people are making a tidy living out of “fixing” it.

    “…claims retirees are now smoking the toxic drug.”

    In the context of said retirees living in state houses, this is, on the face of it, risible. Those retirees will be living solely on National Super: not a chance they could afford P, unless somebody generous is giving it to them for free. And of course that’s a real likelihood, isn’t it!

    Comment by D'Esterre — May 26, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  5. “Asian folk are want to do” *wont..

    Comment by Grant — May 26, 2016 @ 9:34 am

  6. @D’Esterre why do you assume that retirees aren’t actively part of the drug trade? Two days a 60 year old man was arrested at the border http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/80346455/Customs-catch-60-year-old-with-2-million-of-meth-hidden-in-lining-of-trolley-bag , do you assume Baby Boomers suddenly metamorphize when they hit 65?

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  7. It does seem like a potential rort.

    Having said that, it’s be a big call to say “we’re happy for children to live in methamphetamine contaminated State houses”. Could see that going down badly with the punters.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — May 26, 2016 @ 10:31 am

  8. So its ok for beneficiaries to live in houses with some level of P contamination. Could you get the Greens to put that in a press release for us. No? Didn’t think so.

    Comment by artcroft — May 26, 2016 @ 11:09 am

  9. @Robert Singers

    Claiming that retirees are smoking P, is quite different to claiming that some (probably a very small minority of) drug dealers happen to be aged 65+.

    The first claim is ridiculous, the second is indeed almost certainly true.

    Comment by RJL — May 26, 2016 @ 11:14 am

  10. Having said that, it’s be a big call to say “we’re happy for children to live in methamphetamine contaminated State houses”. Could see that going down badly with the punters.

    I can guarantee you there are hundreds of thousands of NZers (state house tenants included) who are living in lead particulate “contaminated” houses (not to mention THC “contaminated” houses).
    I’m struggling to understand why anyone gives a shit. This is merely the health panic du jour (with the added frisson of tut-tutting re dirty bludgers and their lack of moral fibre in order to sell copy).

    Comment by Gregor W — May 26, 2016 @ 11:32 am

  11. As best I can tell, this is what is going on.

    (1) Back in 2010, the Ministry of Health put out guidelines on when/how best to handle the remediation of Meth Labs (note places where P is cooked, not places where people just smoke Meth);

    (2) Those guidelines have been interpreted as saying that: “In New Zealand, the currently acceptable guideline level for meth residues post remediation is: 0.5µg per 100 sqcm” … so if somewhere has meth residues more than this, it is “unsafe” to be in. Whether this is a fair and accurate interpretation of guidelines that didn’t actually directly address the issue of smoking meth (as opposed to making it), run to some 177 pages, and were put out 6 years ago I just don’t know, because science.

    (3) Housing NZ then applies these “guidelines” (including, I assume, the 0.5µg per 100 sqcm threshold) to decide if a State House is “safe” to tenant – kicking out and banning those who they deem responsible. They then also take such people to the Tenancy Tribunal to pay for the remediation (see here http://www.hnzc.co.nz/news/latest-news/tribunals-methamphetamine-ruling-sends-strong-message/).

    So I guess I kinda see where Housing NZ is coming from – imagine the headlines if they allowed people to stay in places which (according to the interpretation of MoH guidelines) are “unsafe” to inhabit. But by the same token, I’m not entirely convinced that the MoH report really provides a very strong basis for the conclusions drawn.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 26, 2016 @ 11:47 am

  12. @RJL not everyone involved in the manufacture, distribution, storage and sale of drugs is a dealer. Any item which is part of a grey or black economy will be traded in lieu of money. D’Esterre’s contention that the only way a retiree could get Meth is by buying it is ludicrous (in addition to the inherent ageism in his statements). These retirees could be getting P in any number of ways that don’t involve money. It’s also pretty ridiculous to pretend it is some how the fall of society that baby boomers are taking drugs; although maybe there are one or two that want nothing more than a good cup of tea when they throw Dark Side of the Moon on the turntable.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 12:04 pm

  13. @Robert Singers,

    Can I just say that the thought of listening to Dark Side of the Moon while on P is horrible. Just horrible. If this is happening, it truly is a national crisis we must confront.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 26, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

  14. @Andrew I’m sure said retirees also have at least one Procol Harum, 10cc, or Bob Marley album. Maybe those bands are more to your taste.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

  15. I’m sure said retirees also have at least one Procol Harum, 10cc, or Bob Marley album

    Why do we even have government, if not to provide a collective response to problems such as this? Chris Bishop as a new “Minister for Acceptable Music” at once, please.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 26, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  16. I see from Chris Bishop’s bio that he is a good Hutt boy. He undoubtedly owns his own copy of Bob Marley’s Legend album, and can probably recite the words to Welcome to the Jungle at a moment’s notice. I’m sure Chris Hipkins would gladly write a member’s bill requiring all NZers to listen to nothing but Coldplay and Dire Straits for you. Apart from New Zealand music month of course, and some amorphous period around Matariki .

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

  17. Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 26, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

  18. Can’t argue with Panhead, even if the brewery is across the border.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 12:47 pm

  19. You know, HNZ probably sees some virtue in discouraging its tenants from partaking of meth within their premises, over and beyond the health hazards of 3rd party exposure…

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — May 26, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

  20. You know, HNZ probably sees some virtue in discouraging its tenants from partaking of [tobacco / alcohol / gambling / domestic violence] within their premises, over and beyond the health hazards of 3rd party exposure…

    ..or not.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 26, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

  21. You know, HNZ probably sees some virtue in discouraging its tenants from partaking of meth within their premises, over and beyond the health hazards of 3rd party exposure…

    If it sees virtue in spending tens of thousands of taxpayers’ money on loan-sharking to people it’s banned from its houses for trivia like recreational drug use, its staff needs replacing immediately with people who have a better grasp of the concept of “virtue.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — May 26, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

  22. @PsychoMilt in what universe do you imagine a SOE has the ability to choose what laws it thinks it should and shouldn’t respect?

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  23. Danyl, there’s two things going on here – an outfit (private company) which refers to US DEA contracts on its website; and the research that Professor Phillippa Howden-Chapman’s team at Wellington Hospital’s Otago Med School are doing – using aggregated data from our DHB’s, who are blood-testing children through the toxicology labs at ESR.

    Yes, there are a lot of seriously contaminated properties, a lot of Headhunter gangs associates being convicted for running meth labs, a ‘cook-a-batch’ problem in BOP that was identified last year.
    LIM notification on properties happens AFTER conviction of meth cooks. If they are caught or otherwise identified.

    So there are two groups who have good metrics on how many meth-contaminated properties we have in NZ – Police via open CIB files on meth labs found by landlords after the cooks have fled; & the dedicated wards in our public hospitals, dealing with children who are severely affected by meth lab in habitation, often CYFS involved, who are part of a growing tide of illness in our most vulnerable children.

    Yes, not all rental properties, not even all HNZ properties.

    But if you have an ideological attachment to selling off social housing, isn’t that dodgy meth testing company an absolute godsend?

    0800 METH INFO

    And

    0508 DRUGTEST – The Drug Detection Agency – TDDA – recommended point of contact for those searching for a meth testing agency for home renovators – they also do hair testing on children, & they send their extremely expensive tests to the USA for processing – they are a franchise-based business, and looking for more franchisees with clean drivers licences….

    Comment by anarkaytie — May 26, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

  24. @Robert Singers
    By choosing one particular drug to test for, it does look like it is choosing what laws to respect. A tenant has smoked meth (maybe) then they are booted out, Smoked cannabis, cigarettes, used heroin etc, doesn’t matter.

    Comment by mjpledger — May 26, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

  25. The comment was about what HNZ considers “virtue” to be, not what legal obligations an SOE might be under. If we consider what laws apply to this situation, it’s not obvious – is Housing NZ legally obliged to treat a house in which meth has been smoked at some point the same way it treats one that’s been used as a meth lab? If so, there’s a law that needs changing asap. Is Housing NZ legally obliged to ban tenants it suspects might have smoked P? If so, there’s another law that needs changing asap. Is Housing NZ legally obliged to blow tens of thousands of taxpayers dosh on putting people up in motels, then treat the money as a loan the recipients are never going to be able to pay back? If so, let’s round up all the people who voted for that law so they can be turned into something more useful to the country, like fertiliser.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — May 26, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

  26. Robert Singers: ” Two days a 60 year old man was arrested at the border…”

    One individual doesn’t constitute a cohort. It’s a bit of a stretch to infer from an individual crime that a whole bunch of old geezers living in state houses are engaging in similar naughtiness.

    “do you assume Baby Boomers suddenly metamorphize when they hit 65?”

    Are you assuming that all baby boomers are into drugs like P? Also a bit of a stretch, if I may say so… My point stands: as I understand the current situation, state houses are means-tested, even if they were not once upon a time. Therefore retirees living in them will a priori be living on the pension alone, with possibly a very small nest-egg in the bank.If they’re lucky. Life on the pension is hard-scrabble; it’s just barely enough for essentials, let alone for much in the way of luxuries. Hence my scepticism about the plausibility of assertions that OAPs in state houses are smoking P.

    My personal preference is for single malt whiskey, the peatier the better. It’s also expensive, but, on account of I’m not addicted, I can make a bottle last a good while.

    “These retirees could be getting P in any number of ways that don’t involve money.”

    What are you suggesting here? Sex for P? Or maybe vegetables from the garden? Or scones? Maybe the grandies slip a bit to the olds from time to time? Possible in some alternative universe, I suppose.

    artcroft: “So its ok for beneficiaries to live in houses with some level of P contamination.”

    Precisely the point: some level of P contamination might mean that somebody has smoked it in that house at some time. Is it any more risky than lead or asbestos – or black mould – contamination? Unless somebody has been manufacturing P in the house, the level of contamination is unlikely to be exceptionable. Perhaps we should worry more about contamination from a long history of tenants smoking cigarettes.

    Comment by D'Esterre — May 26, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

  27. @mjpledger I’m not sure what your point is as they would all be the same law and if you have evidence that those other drugs cause contamination that a) can be detected and b) can’t be cleaned away with domestic cleaners can you please post links, thanks. Also if you have evidence that HNZ doesn’t evict tenants for using properties to break the law in other ways, that would also be interesting. I kind of think they do and have been doing for a while considering how often the evictions in Pomare a couple of years ago made the news.

    @PsychMilt have you considered all the Milt you ingest maybe carcinogenic? Your church aspires to be virtuous, I’ve never seen anything documented that says HNZ needs to be. From the Pol Pot impression I gather you’re a Greens voter.

    @D’Esterre love the use of “a priori” but it’s likely that any number of things are exempted from the means testing such as PIE funds (no that’s not for when you have munchies), so I don’t accept contention. You’re also still being very ageist; what’s wrong with a hotty granny getting some action? But I was more thinking of the lines of letting people stay in the houses and rather than paying board with money they paid in product. If you can’t conceive it happening, then you’re the one who needs to look carefully at the universe they occupy. Oh and I recommend Ardbeg, duty free if you can get it.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

  28. Robert said
    @mjpledger I’m not sure what your point is as they would all be the same law and if you have evidence that those other drugs cause contamination that a) can be detected and b) can’t be cleaned away with domestic cleaners can you please post links, thanks.

    ~~~~~~~
    You’re changing the argument by introducing a) and b).

    You said that SOEs couldn’t select the laws they followed. Obviously they do by choosing to only test for meth. It doesn’t make it any less of choice because the other drugs are harder to detect or are potentially easier to clean up.

    Comment by mjpledger — May 26, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

  29. I sure hope they test them for contamination before moving in too…

    Comment by Alex — May 26, 2016 @ 4:08 pm

  30. @mjledger I’m not changing the argument (if that’s what this is). I struggle to see how you think HNZ could end a Tenancy based on something they can’t prove (point a). Especially if the evidence of the drug use can be removed by the tenant (point b). HNZ is bound by NZ’s tenancy laws (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1986/0120/latest/DLM94278.html) and is the largest client for Tenancy Services (https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/) and the Tenancy Tribunal (http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/tenancy-tribunal).

    They can prove illegal activity in the case of P use because it contaminates the scene. I presume this proof is in line with another bit of legislation (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2006/0069/latest/DLM393463.html) but that’s just and educated guess cause I’m not a lawyer.

    The choice you speak of would only exist in a world where HNZ just made stuff up or they monitored their tenants full time using invasive technology. It doesn’t exist in reality.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 26, 2016 @ 4:22 pm

  31. “nevertheless the broad picture suggests that the problem is being overstated, and there’s a bit of a moral panic here. And some people are making a tidy living out of “fixing” it.” (D’Esterre — May 26, 2016 @ 9:27 am)

    Wait, is this a post about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?

    I’ll get me coat…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 28, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

  32. “18.Can’t argue with Panhead, even if the brewery is across the border.”

    The Japanese border, that is. Shame, their Oatmeal Stout was quite drinkable.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 28, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

  33. Yep A pity. Panhead now to be dumbed down by Lion. The last of the Oatmeal Stout….
    .

    Comment by Leopold — May 28, 2016 @ 5:45 pm

  34. I gather the NZ Drug Foundation has an OIA in on this – unfortunately, the names of the companies doing the “meth contamination” testing for Housing NZ might be redacted on grounds of commercial confidentiality. Which is a shame. But we do know that, in the words of its CEO Paul Commons, “Over the last few years, Housing New Zealand has placed greater focus on identifying homes where P may be used, or may have been used in the past (rather than manufactured).” It seems they’re testing against the MoH guidelines in deciding whether a property can be occupied – but may be relying on a simple binary test in evicting tenants. In other words, they’re not testing for safety, but for tenant lifestyle. Worse, they seem to be evicting people for “contaminating” properties that they didn’t test before the tenant moved in. It starts to look like they’re using testing for “contamination” to generate churn.

    Comment by russell brown — May 30, 2016 @ 8:42 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: