Federal funds for meth lab cleanups cut

By Ashley Nix

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - According to President Obama's proposed 2011 budget, funding for the cleanup of toxic meth labs has been slashed down to zero.

"It was shocking, we absolutely got blind-sided," Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian said.

Drug task forces across the state got an email saying their funding had been cut.

"It could break the county, bankrupt the county," Adam Hadder, commander of the drug task force in Walker County said. "In a matter of months, the amount of labs, it could bankrupt the county."

In 2010, Walker County officials busted more than 600 labs. Hadder said if each individual county has to pick up the tab for cleanup, it will hurt, especially considering cleanup for each lab costs from $1,000 to $3,000. And in addition to the high costs, it's dangerous work.

"I myself responded to four meth labs that exploded," Hadder said. "And two fatalities in one of them, so it's extremely dangerous for us and everybody involved."

Christian says the meth problem isn't as severe in Jefferson County, but the funding problem remains.

"There's a lot of squeaky wheels right now with law enforcement affected all over the county.  I hope they'll hear that and restore [the funding] and we can move on."

The hope is legislators, even the governor will help out in this effort, to restore funding and clean up the mess.

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