UPDATED: Charges laid after HAZMAT, OPP conduct large-scale drug bust in Lowertown

Ottawa Police say a bust of a suspected meth lab in Lowertown began as a call to check on a 40-year-old man.

The family of Laurence Wheatcroft was concerned about his well-being.

When officers arrived at 345 Clarence on Sunday night, they noticed a strange smell coming from his apartment and began the process to get a search warrant as Wheatcroft was apprehended and sent to hospital.

Later, the hazardous material team was called in. When no explosive was found, the unit was ventilated and secured.

Police say it took a while to complete their examination because the tenant had been hoarding.

Wheatcroft has been charged with unlawfully producing and possessing an illegal substance.

According to police, the apartment was so full of chemicals, both labelled and unlabelled, that officers could only safely enter the unit one at a time.

12 apartments in the building on Barber Street at Beausoleil Drive were evacuated as a precaution because so many of the chemicals inside were a mystery and could present any number of risks.

“Odour, potency, flammability, those kinds of things, especially when you don’t know what you’re dealing with.” Sergeant Jeff Pilon told CTV News. “Some chemicals we know, because they’re labelled, they’re over the counter, but there are a lot of mysterious ones we don’t know.”

Police said Tuesday afternoon one man was in custody. There has so far been no word of any charges.