Rise in Meth Labs Calls for Less Costly Cleanup


This bag functioned as a mobile meth lab

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)-- Mobile meth labs are on the rise across Virginia, including the Valley.

The Harrisonburg Police Department was reminded last week of this growing concern.

Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst has prosecuted hundreds of cases in both Rockingham County and Harrisonburg since she took office.

"It is poison. People are poisoning themselves when they do meth and the people who are making meth and pedaling their poison and they are exposing everyone to the toxin's by-products including law enforcement," said Garst.

Mark Campbell, who is with the RUSH Drug Task Force, said there was a time when meth labs were scarce in the valley.

"Several years ago it was nothing. But in 2012, we went to 20 something and 2013 we are up to 30 some," said Campbell.

A few weeks ago, a small red bag held a portable meth lab. It seemed small enough to easily dispose of, but Campbell said it costs about $3,200 to cleanup.

Most of the money goes to the transportation of the cleanup contractors from Roanoke or Lynchburg so they can get rid of the chemicals.

Pretty soon those contractors won't be needed every time a lab is found.

"We will take care of the cleanup ourselves on the team," says Campbell.

He went on to explain that meth labs will be disposed of in containers which will look similar to the ones which hold propane tanks.

These containers will be accessible in Albemarle, Warren, Culpeper and Rockingham Counties, which will bring down the cost of cleanup significantly.

"It will come down to several hundred dollars a piece instead of a thousand dollars a piece," said Campbell. "I am relieved we are finally getting relief with dealing with these meth labs. The costs are staggering to our small unit in disposing these labs and having police to deal with these labs. I think it will be a great help to our community"

Campbell said the containers were supposed to arrive in October; however, they have been backlogged due to budget sequestration but should arrive soon.

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