OCTIEF would like to see testing a property for the presence of methamphetamines or “ice” become as common as obtaining a property inspection for pests or building defects.
A national environmental consulting company with field staff who work from its laboratories in Yatala, Darwin, the ACT and Perth and through its sister company in New Zealand, Octief, headquartered in Yatala, is planning to expand into Australia’s southern states.
Its specialised work involves contaminated land and asbestos detection, assessment and remediation advice.
Clients include government bodies from police and housing departments to private sector clients.
Projects include hazardous materials assessment and air monitoring detection for the Gold Coast University Hospital and Amberley air force Base to major coal mines and road projects including the Clem Jones tunnel and Airport Link tunnel.
Octief has been engaged in methamphetamine testing, assessing sites and overseeing clean up and remediation works after a clandestine meth lab is found.
It is now offering a wider service, targeting the private property sector, in particular homeowners and landlords.
Octief chose the Gold Coast and southern Brisbane suburbs to launch the service.
“More clandestine meth labs are discovered on the Coast than anywhere else in Australia,” Octief general manager, Todd Hastie, said.
“The number of labs on the Gold Coast has been reported as being far higher than anywhere else in the country and almost half of the clan labs found in Australia are found on the Coast.”
He said the testing for methamphetamine contamination is becoming commonplace in Europe and New Zealand but Australia is lagging behind in awareness.
“However, in homes where meth labs have gone undetected or where there has been heavy use of the drug ice, chemical residue can seep into soft furnishings, carpets and even walls and ceilings, leaving unwitting tenants or owners exposed to potentially serious health risks,” Mr Hastie said.
“Property screening in New Zealand has shown chemical residue contamination in up to 50 per cent of all homes tested. We expect it will be similar in Australia.”
He said potential side effects from residual methamphetamine contamination range from respiratory problems and psychosis to organ damage, with small children and babies at higher risk.
Remediating contaminated properties also can have a major financial impact.
“In New Zealand, where a case ended up in court, a landlord had to pay $4500 to replace a tenants’ furniture and reimburse almost $4000 of rent,” he said.
“In a recent Gold Coast case, the clean-up bill was $78,000 to put the property back together.
“That involved taking the carpets out, removing the plaster, air conditioning and insulation before the property is even refitted.
“In worst case scenarios, it may be cheaper to demolish and rebuild.”
National Crime and Corruption guidelines and Queensland Health guidelines specify property owners should make their building safe for future tenants, but this is not being enforced.
“It is now at a homeowner’s discretion but the owner of a property has an obligation under the Queensland Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that it is safe and free of hazards or toxic chemicals,” Bryan Goodall, Octief’s National Sales Manager, said.
Octief provides a standard baseline test from $550, taking 10 samples from a property. It will provide a detailed assessment and can advise on clean-up methods.
“This is very much an emerging market but we have adopted an internationally recognised screening process which is adopted as the global standard for best practice,” he said.