Federal budget cutbacks have forced many states to severely reduce efforts to shut down methamphetamine labs and clean up the toxic waste left behind. Missouri has found a way around this problem by developing its own program for safe disposal of meth lab waste.
In many states, agencies have had to abandon tactics to confront meth manufacturers, after the federal government in February canceled a program that provided $19.2 million in 2010 to assist local agencies in disposing of meth labs, according to the Associated Press. Since then, the number of seized meth labs has dropped by one-third in Tennessee and Arkansas, and by two-thirds in Alabama.
In Michigan, undercover missions to find meth labs have been canceled, but officials still shut them down when they come across them. In Tennessee, authorities had busted 70 labs by midsummer last year; that number dropped to 24 this year.
Specialized training is needed to clean up meth labs, because making meth requires dangerous ingredients including ammonia, battery acid and drain cleaner. The waste cannot be discarded in a regular landfill.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) grant that provided money to states and local agencies for disposing of meth labs was used to dispose of toxic chemicals from more than 10,000 labs. The proposed federal budget does not include any new funding for meth lab cleanup. According to the DEA, the average cost of a meth lab cleanup is $2,000 to $3,000.
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