Pubdate: Tue, 02 Mar 2010
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (Jackson, MS)
Copyright: 2010 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: Gary Pettus
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Cleaning up meth labs in the state last year cost millions of dollars,
the head of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics said.

In Mississippi, it costs from $2,500 to $7,000 to clean up a meth lab,
said director Marshall Fisher.

In 2009, more than 620 meth labs were seized in the state, which
translates to a cost of between $1.5 million and $4.3 million.

But the overall cost of cleaning up everything about meth use is
virtually immeasurable, experts say.

"There are costs to the state to put children in foster care when
they're removed from parents who use meth," said Cathy Dixon, a
psychologist/consultant who lectures on the topic of meth abuse.

"There's the cost of medical care."

This year, the Department of Human Services has removed at least 30
children from meth homes.

The MBN calculates the cost of one meth-abuse case at $100,000, Fisher

That appraisal includes the expense of foster care, as well as medical
care for victims of burns.

"A child in state custody who has been injured because of a meth lab
will have his or her medical care paid for by the state, maybe
forever," Dixon said.

"Many meth labs are discovered because they explode."

A possible case in point: In late January, a Madison County woman was
burned while allegedly making meth.

She was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, then
later transported to a burn center in Atlanta.

Even after cleaning up such a site in Madison County, there are other

Not only can chemical contamination invade the home where meth was
produced, it also can disturb the surrounding land, surface waters and

Smoking meth can pollute a structure, reports the Environmental
Protection Agency. While the EPA provides voluntary guidelines for
meth cleanup, they are "not meant to supersede municipal, county or
state guidance documents, regulations or statutes," according to its
Web site.

"There are absolutely concerns about meth cleanup," said Rusty Payne,
spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which distributes
federal money to pay contractors for meth cleansings.

"Contractors will get rid of the gross contamination -visible spills,
liquids, everything you can see," Payne said.

"Does that make it safe for habitation? The answer is

"To ensure what's called remediation is the responsibility of the

"So if you've rented your house to a meth cook, you must see to the
hard-core, intense sanitizing that makes it safe to live in again.

"Some meth labs are so bad and harmful, you can't do anything but tear
the house down."

Beyond the tangible expense of scouring toxic meth lab sites, there is
a price the state must pay in human misery, Fisher said.

It's a price his agents see almost every day on the

"They're knocking on doors at 2 in the morning, putting people in
cuffs in front of their children - complete strangers doing this to
their parents. Then they call in more strangers from DHS to ask them

"The children have to take off all their clothes and be examined -
again by strangers - because they may be contaminated.

"I don't know how you measure that cost." 
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