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Meth Lab Clean Up Costs Covered In SC Budget, But Not In NC's

When authorities bust a meth lab, it needs to be cleaned up because the chemicals are so dangerous. Someone has to pay for that clean up and governments are struggling to work that expense into their tight budgets. The federal government has paid to clean up meth labs for years. But that money dried up in February. North Carolina took over those payments until May when local municipalities were forced to start picking up the cost. George Osborne, an assistant chief with the Gaston County Police, hasn't had to tap local funds to pay for a meth lab clean up yet. He hoped the state would provide money for that in its newly-adopted budget, but that didn't happen. "Every time someone calls in with a particular complaint involving methamphetamine in general in the back of your mind is, 'Well, these clean ups are expensive and it's on us now,'" says Osborne. Osborne says when a meth lab is found, the county will certainly clean it up. He's just not sure how the county will pay for it. Last year, meth lab clean ups in North Carolina cost $630,000, with an average clean up costing $3,000. In South Carolina, municipalities have been paying to dispose of meth labs since March, mostly with money seized from drug busts. Jeff Moore, the director of the South Carolina Sheriff's Association has fielded many concerns about clean up costs. "I had a sheriff a couple months ago call me and he said, 'Jeff, I'm sitting on four labs. What do I do?' And I said, 'You know what you need to do. Go ahead and take them down and quarantine everything and we'll figure out a way to pay for it,' says Moore. But soon South Carolina will begin picking up the tab. Lawmakers there have set aside $1,000,000 for clean ups this year.