Methamphetamine in the United states started as a predominantly Western phenomenon, but the drug is steadily moving eastward. The Associated Press reports that North Carolina has cleaned up 146 meth labs this year, up from 62 a year ago. Virginia had 33 so far, up from 14 last year; New York is up to 32 from 10.
The migration means paying for cleaning up homemade labs where hazardous chemicals are mixed and heated. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration spent $22 million last year cleaning up clandestine labs. The 2003 total is almost $15 million.
Tennessee is first among states in clandestine lab cleanup cost, with 804 labs costing $3.1 million in 2002, and 1,083 labs costing $1.9 million so far this year. Congress last year gave DEA $20 million to clean up meth-contaminated property, including houses, businesses, apartments and motel rooms, so people are not exposed to residues or harmful vapors.