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Cleanup of meth-lab car could cost Willmar, Minn., multiple thousands of dollars

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WILLMAR — An abandoned car that was supposed to have been sold Friday during the city of Willmar’s impound lot auction could end up costing the city several thousand dollars.

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A company from Morris that specializes in handling hazardous chemicals was at the impound lot Monday collecting items from the vehicle that were believed to be used to make methamphetamine.

Some of the items in the vehicle, which police are calling a mobile meth lab, included common items like camping fuel and Drano, but there were unknown liquids and solids as well.

Willmar Police Capt. Jim Felt said the cost to dispose of the chemicals will be a minimum of $1,800 and could end up around $3,000.

Given the Police Department’s tight budget, Felt said it’s not known exactly how the new expense will be covered.

Felt said crews from West Central Environmental Consultants removed the items from the vehicle and will temporarily store the chemicals at their facility in Morris until they are picked up by an East Coast company that will dispose of them.

Because of the potential toxicity of the chemicals, the vehicle will not be sold at the auction. Felt said a placard was placed on the vehicle noting it was a meth lab. He said the vehicle will likely be sold for scrap.

The vehicle was initially towed to the impound lot in late December after it had been ticketed for remaining on city streets following snowstorms.

Snowplows had driven around the vehicle a number of times, Felt said.

On Saturday, community service officers who were preparing vehicles for the auction discovered items in the car that immediately raised suspicions.

Three members of the local CEE-VI Drug Task Force, who had just returned the day before from a week-long training session on how to respond to meth labs, were called in to determine what action to take.

Police are still trying to find out who owns the vehicle.

He said documents inside the vehicle have provided a few clues.

It’s possible that if the owner is found and if fines are imposed, that the city could recoup some of the expenses of the cleanup.

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