An officer in a hazardous materials protection suit removes a dripping bag from the scene of a suspected methamphetamine lab in an apartment house at 16 Walnut St., Manchester on Tuesday morning. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER - Police cordoned off an inner-city block Tuesday morning after raiding a methamphetamine lab and removing the hazardous chemicals associated with the production of the drug.
Cleanup crews from the private company Enpro wore protective white suits and gas masks. A red tent, apparently a decontamination unit, was set up in a nearby parking lot. Cruisers and yellow crime-scene tape blocked entrance to the sidewalk and single block of Walnut Street between Amhert and Concord streets.
Manchester police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents milled around 16 Walnut St. while the cleanup took place.
"It's like watching a TV show, really. It's crazy," said a Concord Street resident who lives around the corner from the site. The woman, who asked that she not be named, said the scene is the wildest thing she's seen in the six years she's lived in the apartment.
The two-unit house is located between Manchester High School Central to the east and the Boys and Girls Club to the west.
The resident of the apartment, Robert Pineault, was arrested after the execution of a search warrant, said U.S. Attorney John Kacavas. Pineault was charged with manufacture of a controlled substance.
Kacavas said he could not release more information because the search warrant and arraignment of Pineault were sealed Tuesday. He said the matters were sealed to protect the investigation, but they would likely be unsealed later this week.
"I don't expect to cast a wider net. I think we have what we need," he said.
Police said the raid took place shortly before 8 a.m. The cleanup took hours, and authorities started clearing the scene about 1 p.m.
The Concord Street resident said she's seen young men go in and out of the residence but doesn't know anything about them. An older woman lives in another apartment in the building, she said.
She said the neighborhood overall is quiet. Anna Messina used to live in the neighborhood and only recently moved to the West Side. She said a cousin used to live in the building which was generally quiet.
"Living in Manchester, nothing surprises me," she said as she walked down Concord Street.
Manchester Police Chief David Mara said the operation was headed by the DEA.
According to the city assessors' database, the two-family residence was built in 1860 and is owned by Daniel J. Healy.