Local law enforcement authorities may no longer be able to get aid from a federal program that funds cleanups of hazardous methamphetamine labs, reports the Scottsboro (Al) Daily Sentinel. “Right now, all we can do is the best we can,” said Jackson County, Al., Sheriff Chuck Phillips. The federal program began in the mid-1990s. The Drug Enforcement Administration had $10 million to spend on it in fiscal year 2010 (funds obtained from the COPS program), but funding was not included in President Obama’s recommended budget for the current fiscal year.
On average, a meth lab cleanup costs $2,500, said Scottsboro Police Lt. Scott Matthews. In the past DEA was called after an arrest was made, and the federal agency sent a cleanup crew to the scene. Jackson County District Attorney Charlie Rhodes said the lost funding will affect every law enforcement agency. Meth labs leave behind hazardous chemicals and toxic waste that can linger for days if not properly cleaned up and removed. DEA says every pound of meth produced can yield up to five pounds in toxic waste. Rhodes said local officers can’t just throw the lab into an empty dumpster or pour liquids on the ground. “There are significant limitations to what we can do with collecting and disposing of the material,” he said Rhodes.