Cleaning Up Meth Labs Can Cost the Property Owner Big Bucks

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 12/30/2013 7:15 pm
HAMILTON CO., TN (WDEF-TV)--You've heard about the fight against meth labs that dot the landscape of the tri-state area.
But you may not know about the economic impact on those who don't have anything to do with meth--they just happen to own the property where its made.
The clean-up is complicated and expensive.

The Environmental Protection Agency produces programs like this to warn Americans about the health hazards of methamphetamine, and the difficulty in cleaning up the mess that's left after the drug is made.
If you own the property where the lab was, you may face a huge expense.

TOMMY FARMER, DIR., TENNESSEE METH TASK FORCE "We neutralize it..stabilize it..haul it away and dispose of it properly...but that doesn't mean that the property itself has been remediated or cleaned up."

That's when the burden falls on the property owner, who can face costs up to 25-thousand dollars to re-claim the building.
There are strict EPA rules on handling toxic chemicals, but guess what else may be lost?

JOHN LEACH, HEPACO EMER. RESPONSE MRG. "All the textiles, which means furniture, clothing, personal items,many times cabinetry, appliances.....everything is destroyed or thrown away."

John Leach has spent 34 years dealing with hazardous waste. On more than one occasion he was one of the first to enter a meth lab wearing what he calls a Moon Suit.

JOHN LEACH "Not just anybody can go in there..you have to be a qualified contractor...and or CML hygenist..I'm a certified CML hygenist".

Tennessee Law enforcement agencies broke up more than 1500 meth labs this year, and not all in rural areas....some could be literally right under your nose. And many are still not safe for human habitation.

TOMMY FARMER "We currently have about 1400 homes or properties across the state of Tennessee at we are aware of..that are quarantined...and in need of clean-up or remediation."

Again, that burden falls on the property owner.

Tennessee is still one of the leading states in the number of meth labs seized.
And Tommy Farmer says funding for the state Meth Task Force may run out at the end of 2014.


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