By Nathan Baker
Arrests and seizures of methamphetamine manufacturing operations are big news for local law enforcement agencies that tout the removal of the clandestine labs and the harmful chemicals used in the process to make the illicit narcotic.
But drug enforcement officials say making a home used for cooking meth safe for habitation again is a long and expensive process frequently ignored by property owners.
According to Tommy Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Prescription Drug Task Force, the discovery of a meth lab is only the first step.
“Our responsibility is to eliminate the imminent threat to public safety,” Farmer said last week from the task force’s Chattanooga headquarters. “We go in and remove the lab and the other components, but that does not include remediation. People lose that sometimes. We didn’t clean the property, but when they see us going in with hazmat suits and removing the lab, it gives people the false sense that everything’s OK when it’s not.”