Meth Lab Drop Boxes Will Save Oklahoma Thousands

Wednesday, December 7th 2011, 6:38 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The state has come up with a creative solution to the constant problem of cleaning up meth labs. They've set up drop boxes for police, so they can drop off what's been seized and get back to work.

Right now, it costs the state about $1,000 to dispose of the chemicals from a routine meth lab. This new system is expected to cut that cost at least in half.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has set up five secure storage bins for meth lab components. They'll be used to temporarily store the chemicals that officers find in meth labs.

All of them are in secure locations available only to law enforcement.

"Officers can package a lab and bring it to the container site and they're done with it," said Mel Woodrow, OBNDD agent.

That may not sound like much, but it can save officers hours of waiting for a disposal team to respond to each meth lab.

"You catch a meth lab, you're going to be there 6, 12, 15 hours waiting for the clean up to take place," said Sgt. Shannon Clark, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies use the storage bin in Tulsa and so do agencies from all over Northeast Oklahoma. That saves the costs of having disposal teams respond to each individual meth lab.

"And it's a central drop off point where a lot of agencies can come and bring their chemicals. OBN only has to pay a onetime fee to a company to come out and pick up these chemicals and dispose of them properly," Clark said.

The state pays the cost of disposal, so cutting cost was important - and the central drop off helps.

"What we've done is minimize cost for lab cleanup by not having the disposal company come out to each individual lab," said Darrell Weaver, OBNDD Director.

The bins are in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, McAlester, Ponca City and Duncan. The plan is to put more out when the money is available.

"It's safer for the community and it puts those officers and deputies back into the field," Clark said.

Deputy Clark says it's faster and safer for everyone, and the lower cost is a bonus.

Last year, the state paid for the cleanup of 819 meth labs, which costs right at $800,000. They'll be slightly more this year - as the epidemic continues.