ROCKWOOD (WATE)- Roane County deputies discovered a large and dangerous meth lab capable of producing up to 50 pounds of the street drug. That's more than 22,000 individual hits.
The lab was hidden in a wooded area outside of Rockwood. It was found by a deputy checking out a tip about some suspicious activity on Wednesday.
Most meth makers use the shake and bake method these days, making just one batch at a time. But Roane County investigators found 350 pounds of ammonia nitrate at this one location. The chemical is normally used as fertilizer.
They call it an anhydrous ammonia lab, usually found in West Tennessee where there's more agriculture. The lab was set up inside a large tent with an air mattress, sleeping bags, a cooler of food, a propane heater and a homemade phone charger.
"It's very dangerous stuff, even processing them. Once they get the anhydrous, the level of personal protective gear we're going to have to use to dismantle the lab, if anhydrous is involved, it takes us out of simple air purifying respirator to self-contained breathing apparatus," said Tommy Farmer with the Tennessee Meth Task Force.
Farmer said because of the large amount of toxic material, the state couldn't handle the clean-up by themselves. They had to call in a DEA contractor, which adds to the cost for taxpayers by as much as $10,000.
The Roane County Sheriff's Office has not made any arrests yet or named any suspects.
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