Committee on Science and Technology
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Legislative Highlights :: December 13, 2005

Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2005

H.R. 798

Press Release (December 13, 2005)

Legislation authored by Science Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) to stem the scourge of methamphetamine (meth) in local communities, unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives today.

H.R. 798, The Methamphetamine Research Remediation Act, will protect unsuspecting families from the dangers of illegal meth labs and provide needed tools for law enforcement to detect labs throughout the community.

"Meth production is an all too common problem in local communities across the country," stated Rep. Gordon.  "I wrote this bill to address a specific problem in Tennessee, but the legislation’s benefit will extend far beyond my state’s borders to protect unsuspecting families living in homes that were once illegal meth labs."

The Gordon bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop model, voluntary, health-based clean-up guidelines for use by states and localities with the goal of making sure former meth labs are safe and livable.

People move into former meth labs - often common residential settings like single-family homes and apartments - never knowing of their previous use.  Instead of finding a safe living environment, residents find what amounts to a chemical waste dump.  In 2004, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized more than 17,000 domestic meth labs - those numbers are expected to climb in 2005.

"Simple household ingredients used in meth production leave behind dangerous and hidden toxins.  These residual substances affect families reinhabiting homes, apartments and other structures - exposing them to potentially devastating long-term affects," continued Rep. Gordon.

The legislation also authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to initiate a research program to develop meth detection equipment for field use.  Such equipment will help local law enforcement agents and first-responders detect active meth labs faster and assist in measuring contamination levels.  The legislation also requires a study by the National Academy of Sciences on the long-term health impacts on children rescued from meth labs and on first-responders.

"Sadly, there will always be people who decide to harm themselves by using and manufacturing dangerous drugs like meth," added Rep. Gordon.  "This bill will protect innocent people whose lives are endangered by this illegal activity.  Along with other measures moving through the House now, this bill provides families and communities a way to protect themselves from the effects of this serious problem."

The bill has been endorsed by numerous national organizations including The Fraternal Order of Police, The National Sheriff’s Association, The National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, The National Association of Counties, The National Association of Realtors, The National Multi-housing Council, and The National Apartment Association.

"Meth labs are highly toxic and pose serious health risks to our communities," said Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), bill cosponsor and a founder of the Congressional Meth Caucus.  "More than 391 meth labs were seized last year in Washington state.  The national guidelines this bill creates will help protect our communities by ensuring that dangerous meth labs are cleaned properly and efficiently."

The House Science Committee unanimously passed H.R. 798 in March.

The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws notes that thirty-four states passed some form of point-of-sale restriction in their current legislative sessions on medicines often used in the production of methamphetamine.  Many of these states may now look at cleanup/remediation as a top priority.  H.R. 798 could produce needed guidelines and data for states to utilize in crafting such laws.

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