Police are investigating a house northwest of Edmonton suspected of being used as a laboratory for fentanyl production.
An Alberta Health Services executive order, issued last week, states the house in Sturgeon County at 306-26023 Township Road 544 has been deemed “unfit for human habitation.”
The order states that, based on information and still photographs from RCMP as well as observations from Environmental Public Health staff on site, “the housing premises was being used as a clandestine drug laboratory for suspected fentanyl production/processing.”
“It is likely that some of this substance was tracked and/or involuntarily dispersed through the housing premises.”
The order also indicates the conditions “are or may become injurious or dangerous to the public health.”
The home is located in Northern Lights Estates, a newer upscale subdivision about six kilometres northwest of St. Albert.
Kim Martineau has lived in the development for seven years. Though she owns her home, Martineau said it is a quiet area where most residents are renters.
She was shocked to hear the news of the suspected drug operation.
“It’s terrifying. My kids play on these streets everyday – they’re small, they’re 11 and eight. They ride their bikes around here,” she said.
“To think that there’s a house just down the street from us doing a possible drug operation – it’s scary.”
Martineau first noticed a police presence in the neighbourhood last Wednesday, when her husband spoke with an undercover police officer.
“They were watching one of the houses – they wouldn’t tell us which one – they said they had a warrant. They said to watch, in a couple hours, everything would unfold.”
Later that night, she noticed a parade of emergency vehicles.
“EMS, police officers, fire engines, everything you can think of – they all pulled over to that house,” she said.
“They put a big tent out in the yard and looked like they were bringing stuff out. They had lots of police in the front yard, looking over everything. They had the house surrounded and taped off. They had men in full hazmat suits going in and out of the house.”
Martineau said the news was especially surprising because she thought the house was empty.
“We hadn’t seen anything happening, never seen anybody come and go from that house. We were really shocked actually.”
RCMP said they were called in to assist with the execution of a search warrant but said that was the extent of their investigation. A spokesperson directed all other inquiries to Edmonton Police.
EPS confirm it is involved with the investigation, but said police could not comment any further so as not to compromise the integrity of the investigation. A spokesperson said a press conference will be held, but did not have a timeline on when it will take place.
The order states the owner, who AHS identified as Phat Vuong, must hire a professional remediation company specializing in hazardous materials remediation to clean the house of the fentanyl contamination.
“Cleaning of the house must be completed in such a manner that protects the general public and future occupants from fentanyl contamination during and after the clean up.”
Martineau said the situation is shocking but there are no plans for her family to move.
“We still love it out here. I don’t suspect anything like that would happen out here again. We’re a pretty small community. It doesn’t bother us that way but I think I’ll be a little more cautious with my kids running around on the street by themselves out here,” she said.
Global News tried to reach the owner and property manager for comment but was unsuccessful.
Data from the province shows there were 113 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta in the first three months of 2017.
— More to come…