The Grand Junction Housing Authority expects to begin cleanup next week at the Ratekin Tower Apartments after significant methamphetamine contamination was discovered in the building last month.

Housing Authority Chief Operating Officer Scott Aker said the cleanup process would start on the first and sixth floors.

"Some units will have to be significantly remediated … tearing out appliances, drywall, etc," he said.

Aker said the contamination started with one unit, which the authority decided to inspect after receiving information from staff.

The results of that inspection led to further testing, putting up plastic in the hallways as a precaution, and now extensive cleaning to units throughout the building.

Aker said remediation contractors the authority has already selected won't be able to do all of the cleanup work at once so they will start on the first and sixth floors and proceed from there.

On Nov. 4, residents were notified that preliminary testing at all 107 apartments was completed with cleanup expected to begin Tuesday, Nov. 12.

"In the common areas, the cleaning will include washing walls, handrails, floors and replacing the ceiling tiles," the notice said. "In individual apartments that have tested positive, the work will vary depending on the level of contamination."

While most were found to have very low levels of contamination, others that tested much higher will have to be cleaned thoroughly, which may include removal and replacement of drywall and possibly cabinets, flooring, appliances and other items.

"It's not ideal, but we are doing everything we can to make this as comfortable as it can be under understandably bad circumstances," Aker said.

He did not know how long the cleanup would take but expected it to continue into 2020.

"Can't promise when they will be back into their unit," he said.

During the cleanup process, residents will have to be out of their apartments and Aker said they are working with each of the tenants on relocation.

Accommodations for tenants with disabilities have already been discussed.

"We are meeting everyone's needs as best we can," he said.

Tenants on the first and sixth floors will need to be fully moved out by Monday.

The Housing Authority will pay for tenants to stay at hotels during the cleanup process, and hotel reservations have been made through Dec. 13 for the first and sixth floor tenants.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Mesa County Public Health and Grand Junction Police Department have all been contacted and are advising as needed.

"In my time at the Housing Authority, we've only had one situation with one apartment unit at a different location. It was an extensive issue, but isolated to one apartment," he said. "I've never seen anything on this scale."

According to Aker, methamphetamine residue doesn't have a shelf life and is an extremely contaminating substance.

Meth-contaminated properties must be cleaned and tested by someone who is certified under Colorado's regulations. According to the health department's website, two companies in Grand Junction are certified for meth-affected properties.

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