2 Arkansas Chemistry Professors Face Charges of Making Meth
It sounds like something from the award-winning former A.M.C. series “Breaking Bad”: The authorities charged two chemistry professors in Arkansas on Friday in connection with the production of methamphetamine.
The instructors, Terry D. Bateman, 45, and Bradley A. Rowland, 40, were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and using drug paraphernalia, the Clark County Sheriff’s Department said. Meth is a highly addictive drug that can be manufactured illegally with chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mr. Bateman and Mr. Rowland are associate professors of chemistry at Henderson State University, a liberal arts school of about 3,500 students in Arkadelphia, about 70 miles southwest of Little Rock.
The professors went on administrative leave as of Oct. 11, Tina V. Hall, a university associate vice president of marketing and communications, said on Sunday.
Ms. Hall said that the school’s Reynolds Science Center had been closed on Oct. 8 because of “a report of an undetermined chemical odor.” Testing revealed an elevated presence of benzyl chloride in a lab, she said.
Benzyl chloride is used to produce certain dyes and pharmaceutical products, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Short-term effects from inhaling it include irritation of the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract.
“Benzyl chloride is an inexpensive and versatile chemical that is used to make many other useful drugs and molecules,” Eric E. Simanek, a professor of chemistry at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, said on Sunday.
Stephen J. Madison, who is on the chemistry faculty at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., said that benzyl chloride could be used to help make methamphetamine.
Henderson State University’s on-call environmental services company conducted remediation work in the building, which reopened on Oct. 29, Ms. Hall said.
“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority, and we continue to cooperate with authorities,” she said.
It was not clear whether the chemical smell in the school building had prompted the investigation by law enforcement. Ms. Hall referred questions about whether the instructors were making meth on campus to the sheriff’s department.
Sheriff Jason C. Watson did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Professors Bateman and Rowland could not immediately be reached on Sunday. Their court appearances are pending, according to the sheriff’s department.
In April, Professor Bateman was honored by the school for 10 years of employment there, according to the university.
The arrests called to mind the wildly popular “Breaking Bad” series, which ran from 2008 to 2015. The drama followed Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher played by Bryan Cranston who becomes an Albuquerque, N.M., drug lord when he can’t afford his cancer treatments.
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