County to burn drugs locally

Drugs and paraphernalia confiscated by local sheriff’s deputies will no longer have to be taken out of town to be destroyed.

The Bartholomew County Commissioners have approved a request from the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department to purchase a $4,250 portable incinerator to dispose of the items locally.

The purchase of what’s marketed as a “Elastec Drug Terminator” will end the practice of taking drugs and related paraphernalia to the Convanto incinerator on the south side of Indianapolis, Chief Deputy Chris Lane said.

Convanto charges up to $150 to burn a small box of materials, “which can get to be quite expensive over time,” Lane said.

“With this (portable incinerator), we can do it ourselves on-site, and it should pay for itself over a period of time,” Lane told the commissioners.

The only drugs and paraphernalia that will be incinerated are items no longer needed as evidence. Besides cases that have already gone through the courts, that includes narcotics obtained for cases never filed or where the statute of limitations has expired, Lane said.

Although state law only requires a written record, a video will also be kept on file of all evidence being destroyed as an additional safeguard, Lane said.

The Drug Terminator basically creates a cyclone of fire with a 55-gallon drum that can destroy not only drugs but other material with minimal environmental impact, according to the Elastec website.

The portable incinerator will also be used to destroy fraudulent documents, credit cards and other items that officers don’t want falling into the wrong hands, the chief deputy said.

Lane was asked by commissioner Larry Kleinhenz to offer the use of the portable incinerator to the Columbus Police Department.

The approval of the purchase came exactly one year after the sheriff’s department announced it had ended its ongoing Drug Take Back Program.

For two years, the department allowed the public to drop off unwanted prescriptions in a box at the department’s lobby.

But Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers decided to stop the program after an employee was stuck with a needle that hadn’t been properly secured with a cap.

While Lane said there are no plans to resume the program, the department continues to sponsor drug take back days at specific locations around the Bartholomew County community about four times a year.

About the device

The Drug Terminator is a portable, drug disposal incinerator for evidence drugs, paraphernalia and active pharmaceutical ingredients.  Designed for law enforcement, drugs are safely destroyed by using a cartridge to inject them into a cyclone of fire created within a 55-gallon drum.

A more efficient method than open barrel burning, the intense heat creates a clean, smoke-free burn disintegrating the discarded materials into an average of 1 to 3 percent ash residue. The drug disposal incinerator assembly is easily moved from one location to another on a dolly-like cart.

The drug disposal incinerator also burns other non-hazardous substances such as documents, plants, food, and lab materials with minimal environmental impact. Non-combustibles, such as syringes and sharps, are sterilized and can be disposed in municipal waste.

The portable incinerator is manufactured by the southeast Illinois-based Elastec Corp., which is one of the largest manufacturer of oil spill and environmental equipment in North America.

Source: Elastec website

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.