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February 7, 2007

Congress Takes On Toxic Meth Labs Bill Assists Law Enforcement, Communities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) The House today voted to help law enforcement confront the epidemic of methamphetamine use in Wisconsin and across the nation. H.R. 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act, sponsored by Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D., passed by a vote of 426-2.

The Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act assists the Environmental Protection Agency develop guidelines to help state and local authorities clean up methamphetamine contaminated sites.

The Drug Enforcement Agency reports that more than 230 meth labs have been seized in Wisconsin since 2003.

“Law enforcement officials are in need of strong support for their efforts to confront the rising epidemic of methamphetamine – a very addictive and destructive drug appearing more frequently across Wisconsin,” Kagen said.

“The chemicals used in making meth are highly volatile and threaten law enforcement officers and emergency responders who enter meth labs. Meth labs are often found in residential settings – houses, apartments or motel rooms. The toxic residue left behind threatens the health of whoever moves into the space next,” Kagen said.

“The devastation from clandestine meth labs is a serious issue for our communities,” says David Raasch, of the Fox Valley Technical College’s Criminal Justice Center for Innovation. “In addition to the human devastation, protecting children and cleaning up the toxic mess left behind is very expensive,” Raasch said.

In addition to establishing clean-up guidelines, the bill also:

  • Directs the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to consult with EPA in developing technologies to detect meth labs and field test kits for law enforcement
  • Requires the National Academy of Sciences to study the long-term health impacts of meth exposure on first-responders and on children taken from meth lab sites.

According to a National Drug Threat Survey of law enforcement agencies across the nation, meth was named most often as the greatest drug threat in communities.

“This is a public health as well as a criminal problem. By working together, federal, state and local authorities can ensure the safety and health of our communities,” Kagen said.

Curtis Ellis
202 225-5665 (office)