ROAN MOUNTAIN — It was a major effort, but Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said a clandestine methamphetamine “super lab” was cleaned up and cleared in time for officers and agents to enjoy their Thanksgiving.
Mathes said state officials believe it may be the largest such lab in state history.
Mathes said officers completed the cleanup of the vacant house at 8377 Highway 19E in Roan Mountain at approximately 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. He said the cleanup was conducted over 36 hours.
In addition to 20 officers from the sheriff’s department, Mathes said many other groups assisted in the effort. These included the Tennessee Mehtamphetamine Task Force and other hazardous material personnel, the Carter County Rescue Squad and the Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, working in the coldest weather so far this year.
They worked in a house that had no electrical or water service.
Mathes said no more arrests were made since Timothy Lee Blackwell, 43, was found in the house Tuesday when officers made their initial entry. Blackwell was charged with six counts of initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, possession of felony drug paraphernalia and aggravated burglary, possession of a schedule I drug, violation of probation and attachment for child support.
Blackwell made a brief appearance in Sessions Court on Wednesday. Judge Jonn Walton appointed a public defender for him and set Blackwell’s next appearance for Monday.
Mathes said the final tally from the cleanup is 373 gallons of hazardous waste. There were 201 bottles consisting of one-pot cooking bottles and hydrochloric acid gas generator bottles,
Mathes said the most disturbing item for him was the removal of more than a pound of lithium from the house. Lithium is a highly reactive element that can explode when exposed to water.
Mathes discussed the large amount of hazardous material with Tommy Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force and one of the most experienced officers in the state in dealing with methamphetamine labs.
“He suspects it is one of the largest labs in state history,” Mathes said.