Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Monday the launch of a new meth lab clean-up program in the state that will provide safe disposal of toxic wastes at no cost to local governments.
A record number of meth labs were busted last year in North Carolina, according to a report issued Monday by the state Department of Justice. State Bureau of Investigation agents busted 344 meth labs in 2011. So far this year, agents have responded to more than 120 labs, including at least 14 where children were found.
Local law enforcement agencies have had to cover the costs of hazardous waste clean-up at meth lab sites for much of the past year after federal funding dried up.
The new program is a joint effort by the State Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Governors Crime Commission. Under this program, SBI agents and trained local officers will remove, neutralize and package meth lab waste. SBI agents will then transport it to four container sites for pickup and destruction by a hazardous waste contractor. The container sites are located at sheriffs offices in Davie, Haywood, Sampson and Wilson counties.
Law enforcement can use any container site in the state. Hazardous waste will be removed weekly from the containers. An additional four container sites are expected to be in place later this year and locations are still being determined for those sites.
North Carolina is one of only eight states in the country to use this solution for handling the toxic chemicals left behind at meth labs, according to the report.
Criminals who make meth leave behind a potentially deadly brew of chemicals that can put neighbors at risk, Cooper said. Local law enforcement can now have these toxic waste sites cleaned up at no cost to them.
After law enforcement removes waste from a meth lab site, property owners are responsible for rehabilitating the property based on guidelines set by the North Carolina Division of Public Health.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive illegal drug that can be cooked in labs located in homes, apartments, and even cars. Chemicals used in cooking meth pose a significant health risk to anyone who comes in contact with them.