Buxton United Methodist Church Courtesy photo

BUXTON — A weekslong cleanup of Buxton United Methodist Church is underway, following the discovery of a suspected methamphetamine lab in the church’s children’s area last month that closed the building during the holiday season.

New England Trauma Services, based in Mansfield, Massachusetts, began the cleanup Dec. 23 after testing and an evaluation by an industrial hygienist, according to Beth DiCocco, spokeswoman for the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“It is expected to take 12-15 days, followed by work to replace items made of paper, cardboard, plastic or unfinished wood, as well as kitchen items, which will have to be disposed of and replaced,” DiCocco said in an email to the American Journal.

New England Trauma Services did not return a call seeking comment on the cleanup.

Buxton police responded Dec. 5 to a report of suspicious activity at the church at 276 Chicopee Road. Police said they found items consistent with the manufacturing process of methamphetamine in an upstairs play area for children.

Matthew Anderson, 33, of Buxton was arrested soon after on a charge of unlawful operation of a methamphetamine lab.


Anderson remained at York County Jail Monday and is being held on $7,560 cash bail, a jail spokesman said. Anderson is scheduled to appear Jan. 20 in Alfred Superior Court.

DiCocco did not disclose an estimated cost of cleanup at the church.

It could cost between $5,000 and $35,000, according to Bill York of Gorham, owner of Biospecialists. York’s biohazard disposal company is not involved in the Buxton cleanup, but it has cleaned up several meth lab locations.

“It’s labor intensive,” York said, and “never a cheap proposition.”

Retesting after a cleanup is necessary because meth toxins can last 200 years, he said.

“You can’t paint over it,” York said.


The state does not require cleanup after meth contamination, according to York, but even residue left from someone smoking meth in a residence can cause flu-like symptoms. People “absolutely could get sick,” he said.

Everything depends on the contamination level, York said. Meth contamination in an apartment building, for example, can spread from one unit to another, depending on ventilation and heating systems.

York suggests that prospective home buyers have a house tested before purchase.

The church plans to continue holding its services at Living Waters Christian Church in Buxton through January and the congregation is grateful for their hospitality, DiCocco said.

“We would also like to thank the community for their support at this time, particularly for our Christmas pageant and this year’s Buxton Toy Box,” DiCocco said.

Toys the church had collected for distribution locally had to be thrown out because of possible contamination.

The church pastor, Lynn Briggs, said in a statement released by the church conference that her congregation will soon have a clean and safe building.

“The people of Buxton UMC are a people of great faith. I know how much their church building means to them, but I know also know that they understand that a church is people. Because of that, we really haven’t lost anything at all,” Briggs said. “We have people, filled with spiritual gifts, and we will soon have a building that is clean and safe. God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good.”

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