Tennessee cops are learning an unusual skill in the name of cost-cutting: how to clean up a meth lab. The state was the nation’s leader in meth lab busts in 2010, with 2,000, and the cost of bringing in certified contractors to deal with the highly toxic and dangerous aftermath cost the state some $4.5 million last year, NPR’s Morning Edition reports. Compare that to Kentucky, which had half the busts but spent only $440,000 thanks to its in-house approach.
Some 30 Tennessee cops are being instructed on how to do it themselves, too, a process that involves using pH strips, wearing two layers of gloves, and being very, very careful. But Tennessee has fewer meth labs to dismantle these days—and not because dealers are cooking less. Federal cleanup funds have dried up, and "smaller counties absolutely can't spend $2,000 or $3,000 every time they see a lab," says a sheriff. "They just end up not reporting them." If they find meth in a jar, they end up "just busting it or pouring it out and letting it go."