Tennessee officials say the scourge of methamphetamine is costing 1.1 billion dollars a year, and that price is going up.
Federal funding to clean up meth labs is drying up.
TOMMY FARMER, TENN. METH TASK FORCE “It’s the perfect storm..is what we’re dealing with right now. Tennessee rises to the dubious distinction of being the number one..the number one state in the nation for meth lab seizures.”
The chemicals used to make methamphetamine are toxic. A meth lab pollutes everything around it: walls, floors, the soil under a house and even the air. That’s also an indication to what it does to those who make it, or just be near it, like children.
Until now, local law enforcement agencies who found such labs called the DEA to clean it up. The cost could range from 2500 up to 10-thousand dollars each case.
But now, that 20-million dollar fund has been exhausted.
TOMMY FARMER, METH TASK FORCE “I liken it to a loaded gun that’s left laying in a park, you can’t leave it. You have to do something with it..and if you don’t do something with it..somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
McMinn county has had the most meth lab busts in the state, 155 out of the 2082 reported in the state last year.
Sheriff Joe Guy says he has no choice than to keep shutting them down but he doesn’t know where long range funding will come from.
Sheriff Jim Ruth in nearby Bradley county…says there may be some help coming from the EPA.
SHERIFF JIM RUTH, BRADLEY COUNTY SHERIFF “They reimburse you for hazardous material cleanup…but at that we have to pay up-front”
And that cost could run a quarter to a half-million dollars a year.
Sheriff Ruth and Tommy Farmer have asked congressman Chuck Fleischmann to help find more funding to clean up the sights…while Hamilton county Sheriff Jim Hammond says he and other sheriff’s are also looking for alternative funding sources.
Meanwhile, law enforcement groups and prosecutors are trying to keep the pressure on the Tennessee General Assembly to make the key ingredient in meth, pseudoephedrine, available only by prescription.
The pharmaceutical industry is fighting that move.