State To Take Over Cost Of Meth Lab Cleanup

Friday, March 4th 2011, 9:09 pm
By: News On 6

Laura Moss, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The cost of cleaning up meth labs in Oklahoma will no longer be in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Somebody's got to do it and I guess the buck stops here," David Hale, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, said.

Effective Friday, when an Oklahoma meth lab is taken over, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics  will cover the cost.

3/4/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Police: City Becoming Known As Nation's Meth Capitol

"Our director thinks it's really important that somebody take up the slack and I think it's admirable that he's willing to do that," Hale said.

The change in bill payers will not affect the way the labs are cleaned up whatsoever. David Hale of the OBN says they're happy to do anything that keeps officers safe and healthy.

"We don't want them to put it in something and carry it back to the station," he said. "I mean this stuff is toxic."

Another intoxicating fact: officers tell News On 6 they busted about a 150 meth labs in 2007. That number jumped to more than 800 last year.

"We are just hoping it will slow it down, to get it back to a manageable level," Hale said.

Clean up costs add up. Hale tells us it can cost from $1,500 to $10,000 to clean up each location. OBN officials estimate they will pay up to $800,000 a year to dispose of the labs, but that number could change.

"There's no way of really knowing what it's going to cost because it's all driven by how many meth labs they're going to get," Hale said.

Leaders say the price tag is so high because of what and how they have to dispose of the damages.

According to the OBN, private contractors are hired to get rid of the toxic waste. Most of this trash has to be taken to special incinerators to make sure toxins are not released into the environment.

As the expenses mount, the OBN will have to find more funds.

"I hope we have that amount of money," Hale said.

The OBN will use old grant money to pay for what they can now. They say they will be applying for more grants to keep up with the financial demand.