It’s one of those good news, bad news tales.
The City of Greenwood now has the ways and means of addressing some of the most hazardous situations, meth lab cleanup. Equipped with a trained crew and a $400,000 HAZMAT response truck, the city’s fire department is ready for a variety of emergency situations, from chemical spills to train derailments to gas leaks. Its response list includes meth lab duty, the hazardous task of cleaning up those places where the drug is manufactured once law enforcement has done its duty and broken up the meth manufacturing operation. And sadly, it seems, the meth cleanup muscle will get the most flexing.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not hoping for derailments, chemical spills and gas leaks. Rather, we are taking note of the fact it seems meth busts are occurring nearly once a week within Greenwood County. That is the bad news in this tale. Meth is a tremendous scourge on our society. It is one of the most destructive drugs out there. Certainly it destroys the lives of the users, but meth is particularly menacing in that it has such great potential to destroy the manufacturers and nearby innocent people.
While the places meth is created are referred to as “labs,” there is nothing about them closely resembling a scientific laboratory setting. Kitchens, outbuildings, crawl spaces and even vehicles are turned into makeshift labs in which the manufacturer blends household chemicals and over-the-counter medicines into a poisonous concoction. Things can and all too often do go wrong during the manufacturing process, everything from accidental spills that release harmful fumes to explosions.
In many cases, meth labs are being operated in homes where children are present and exposed to the harmful chemicals — chemicals that can affect the central nervous system and cause death. It is not unusual to find labs operating in neighborhoods and even apartment complexes where neighbors also can be affected as a result of exposure to the chemicals or, in some cases, explosions. And what meth does to the user is something straight out of science fiction. If you have never seen before-and-after photos of a meth user, take a break from Facebook and other Internet sites and do a little exploration.
We know law enforcement in Greenwood County is pouring efforts into closing down meth labs, and we commend the efforts. We know the officers, as well as the cleanup crews, are putting themselves at great risk in what seems to be a never-ending battle against meth. Frankly, we’d be OK if law enforcement’s drug war would concentrate troops more on the meth battlefield and less on the sidelines where recreational pot users make for easier targets.
Yes, we are glad Greenwood was able to secure the HAZMAT response truck. It helps keep the responders safe and properly equipped. We just wish there were not such a need in our area. Wishing won’t change the situation, however, and so we fully endorse law enforcement’s diligence on that battlefield.