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Home > Publications > Quill > Winner: Debbie Dujanovic & Kelly Just, KSL-TV


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Winner: Debbie Dujanovic & Kelly Just, KSL-TV

“Meth Houses”

Jim Poyser

This story began as a real estate law article. Home sellers in Utah do not have to disclose whether a house was ever contaminated by meth. The reporters, Debbie Dujanovic and Kelly Just, began knocking on doors to see if homeowners knew their houses might have a dark past.

One door they approached belonged to the Alkinani family. The Alkinanis showed the reporters a letter from Salt Lake County dated more than a year before they moved in, declaring their home successfully decontaminated.

Dujanovic and Just decided to test the house for meth. Their real estate story then took an investigative turn when the house tested positive. In the bedroom where the Alkinani’s baby slept, the levels were 14 times above what the state considers safe.

Just said: “One day all seemed fine for the families we were working with, the next a reporter tells them they’re living in what the EPA considers a hazardous waste site.”

Judges said: “Very strong series of reports. Great enterprise on the part of KSL. They were dogged in their pursuit of this story. They served the viewers of Salt Lake City well in exposing this problem and in holding local officials accountable.”

Viewers responded, asking if they could donate clothing items and food to one family whose home was so contaminated they had to move out, losing everything. Other viewers called, wanting to know how to get their own homes tested.

As a result of this story, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department changed its rules and started spot-checking homes after decontamination to verify that houses have truly been cleaned up and are safe to occupy. Also the Salt Lake Valley Health Department has issued a resolution asking Utah lawmakers to consider making the disclosure of meth-contaminated properties mandatory.

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