Hank Investigates: Fentanyl Cleanup

(WHDH) — A story you’ll see on just one station: Someone else’s addiction could be putting you at risk of an overdose. Hank reveals why you could be in danger, even if you’ve never used drugs! Hank Investigates.

Someone died in this van. And what they left behind could kill the next person who opens the door.

Hank: “How dangerous is this?”

Mike Wiseman, CEO, 24 Trauma: “Deadly, absolutely deadly.”

We weren’t allowed to get close enough to see it, but the front seat of this van is covered with fentanyl.

Hank: “What could happen if that door was just opened?”

Wiseman: “Anyone within a six foot area, depending on the wind current, could overdose on fentanyl exposure.”

Hank: “From that amount?”

Wiseman: “Absolutely. There’s enough in that vehicle right now that the three of us could do down almost instantly.”

That’s why this company’s highly-trained crews have to be zipped and duct taped into triple layer airtight suits and breathing protection to clean it up.

Wiseman: “This is actual live cleaning, of a Level A hazmat situation.”

Hank: “What do you think about that?”

Wiseman: “Biggest epidemic I’ve ever seen.”

This commercial van will safely go back into service, but with the number of fentanyl deaths skyrocketing, law enforcement officers worry users are putting innocent bystanders, like you, at risk.

Our investigation found: in Massachusetts there’s no requirement for the kind of super-level cleanup only companies with protection and training can handle.

Hank: “What’s the level of danger if you didn’t do this right?”

Wiseman: “There is no higher danger.”

Of course police seize evidence of the drugs when they make an arrest or find a body.

But here’s the reality: It’s not their job to clean up the crime scene. That means dangerous drugs get left behind.

Matt Gutwill, New England Narcotic Officers Association: “We leave small amounts there, we don’t recover it, we don’t take it.”

These are photos professional cleanup crews took of suspected fentanyl found in Massachusetts hotels. A person died here when he touched this powder. A person overdosed in this rental car.

And in this apartment, fentanyl was left behind after tenants were evicted. These property owners all paid for professional cleaning.

But what about the next drug user’s hotel room? Or rental car? Or apartment? It’s the owners’ responsibility to get it property cleaned, and there’s no one checking to make sure they do.

Gutwill: “Some person who doesn’t have anything to do with drugs is gonna die.”

Experts say it’s time for people who work here at the statehouse to get involved. They want new laws passed requiring property owners in these situations to have a professional cleanup done. They say that’s the only way to protect innocent people.

On Beacon Hill, I’m Hank Phillippi Ryan.

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