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Press Releases :: October 21, 2005

Gordon’s Bill to Combat, Clean-Up Meth Endorsed By National Organizations

Methamphetamine lab clean-up legislation (H.R. 798) authored by Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon was praised by the National Association of Counties at a congressional hearing this week.

At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on meth's impacts on health and the environment, a representative from the National Association of Counties said H.R. 798 does much to address the problem of meth clean-up.  In addition to serving as Ranking Member of the Science Committee, Rep. Gordon is a senior Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The National Sheriffs' Association also formally endorsed the bill today.

"Local law enforcement is doing its part to locate and shut down meth labs, but they face tremendous struggles in dealing with the problem because meth labs are saturated with hazardous and explosive chemicals," said Gordon.

Each pound of meth produces about six pounds of hazardous waste, according to the Congressional Research Service.  The waste is usually dumped along highways or into sewers, streams, rivers or the ground near the lab.  In addition, cooking meth can infuse carpeting, walls and furniture with toxic chemicals.

"Local officials bear the responsibility for detection and clean-up of meth lab sites, yet no uniform, national standards currently exist that define a 'clean' site," said Gordon.  "States, communities and first responders need more resources.  They need the tools my bill will provide."

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 1,300 meth labs were seized last year in Tennessee alone.

"These labs are highly toxic, and the residual contamination from the production of methamphetamine can lead to health risks and threaten the health of children and individuals who may unsuspectingly live in a former lab," testified Eric Coleman, First Vice President of the National Association of Counties, an organization that represents county governments.

To further complicate the problem, many meth cooks set up their labs on rental properties, a practice which poses a significant financial risk for the unsuspecting property owners.

"You could have an elderly couple living in one side of a duplex and renting the other half to supplement their retirement income," said Gordon.  "Unbeknownst to them, meth cooks move in and set up a lab.  When that lab gets busted, the couple won't be able to rent out that space any more because people don't want to live in a home that may be contaminated."

Gordon said his bill will help reduce those risks by charging the Environmental Protection Agency with developing clean-up standards for sites housing illegal meth labs.  In March of this year, the Science Committee unanimously approved the bill, dubbed the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act.  It now awaits consideration by the full House.

"I want our communities to be free of this plague," said the congressman.

More information on H.R. 798 and the methamphetamine crisis can be found on the Science Committee Democrats' website investigation page.

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