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Indiana Increasing Number of Meth Lab Cleanups, Bucking National Trend

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While many states are being forced to pull back on methamphetamine lab cleanups because of federal funding cuts, Indiana has been able to buck the trend. The state has increased the number of meth labs it has found and destroyed by 33 percent in the first half of this year compared with 2008.

Indiana has been able to cut the costs of finding and destroying meth labs by partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to set up temporary disposal sites, according to The Journal & Courier. There are 10 such sites throughout Indiana. Through the DEA program, troopers who receive special training package materials they find at a meth lab site themselves and take them to a disposal site. A contractor empties the containers when they are full, the newspaper explains. The DEA pays for the containers and the training.

According to the DEA, the average cost of a meth lab cleanup is $2,000 to $3,000. Indiana pays only $550 because of its participation in the DEA program, says Niki Crawford, Commander of the Indiana State Police Methamphetamine Suppression Section. She told the newspaper DEA funding is currently guaranteed only through September 30 of this year, but she is confident the agency will provide continued funding after that.

Federal budget cutbacks have forced many states to severely reduce efforts to shut down methamphetamine labs and clean up the toxic waste left behind. In many states, agencies have had to abandon tactics to confront meth manufacturers, after the federal government in February canceled a program that provided $19.2 million in 2010 to assist local agencies in disposing of meth labs. Since then, the number of seized meth labs has dropped by one-third in Tennessee and Arkansas, and by two-thirds in Alabama.

Specialized training is needed to clean up meth labs, because making meth requires dangerous ingredients including ammonia, battery acid and drain cleaner. The waste cannot be discarded in a regular landfill.

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