Pubdate: Tue, 02 Mar 2004
Source: Tullahoma News (TN)
Copyright: The Tullahoma News 2004
Author: Wayne Thomas
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Every week, area law enforcement officers locate as many three meth labs
around the county. Frequently those individuals are asked what the long term
effects are of the drugs, not only on those using the drug, but on the
property where they are 'cooked.'

That is a question that the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee
Department of Environment have long term guidelines on. The state officials
note that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) usually handles the
cleanup of the labs. The federal agency contracts with a private company,
which cleans up the chemicals. Bell said that the average cost to cleanup a
meth lab is between $1,800 to $6,000. "There is no set guidelines on how a
house is to be cleaned up," Winchester Investigator Billy Anderson stated.
Franklin County Sheriff's Investigator Mike Bell noted that when law
enforcement finds a meth lab at a residence, they notify the Franklin County
Register of Deeds Office to place a notice on the property deed. "People
need to know the history of the property they might move in," Bell said. The
letter that is sent states: "This letter serves as a warning and
notification that although the clandestine drug laboratory was seized and
processed by law enforcement from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and
disposed of by a licensed hazardous waste contractor, there may be hazardous
substances or waste products at or on your property." The letter is not only
sent to the property owner and register of deeds but also to the
Environmental Protection Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration, Franklin
County Health Department, Franklin County Assessor of Property and the
Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation. "If there is carpet in
the house, it needs to be removed and the walls have to be cleaned," Bell
said. Bell explained that a property owner could hire a professional
environmental company to clean up the property. "Once that is done, the
property owner can receive a letter on company letterhead detailing that the
property was clean and then take it to the Register of Deeds. The register
of deeds will then attach the letter to the property deed letting any
potential buyers know that the property is clean," Bell explained. Bell and
Anderson note that one of the big dangers pertaining to a meth lab are the
fumes. "In California, they have an Environmental Services agency that
inspects property where methamphetamines labs have been." "Once they inspect
the property, they give the homeowner a list of things that need to be
corrected. The property owner is given guidelines that have to be followed
for clean up," Bell said. These problems is especially of interest to
property owners here in Franklin County following the federal drug agency's
disclosure earlier this year that we are the number one meth producing
county in the state of Tennessee. It is also of interest due to the recent
revelation that the area has the highest number of labs in the country.
"During a recent school conducted by the D.E.A., we were told that the
Southeast Meth Task Force region, which goes from Lincoln County on the west
to Moore, Coffee, Warren, Cumberland Counties, all the way up to the Knox
County line is the largest meth producing region in the country," Bell
stated. He noted that this means more meth is produced in this region than
any of the major cities, including the West Coast.
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