Money for meth lab clean up drying up - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Money for meth lab clean up drying up

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By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News  bhaeberle@fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Seth Brown says meth gave him the confidence he never had as a child growing up in Olive Hill, Ky. But it also made him intolerant, angry and turned him into "a monster."

At 35, he's been to eight rehabilitation clinics, and through more than 30 bouts of detox.

He lied. He stole. He eventually hit rock bottom just days before his arrest at a Bowling Green motel in 2009, where he spent eight days injecting himself with methamphetamine until he could no longer find a vein. 

"First drug I ever really done was meth. It just turned me into a monster. I done things that I swore I would never do. It took me places that I swore I would never go.

He worst day came just two days before his arrest. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror of his motel room.

"There was blood dripping off the end of my fingertips... running all the way down my arms and my legs... and I just seen myself (in the mirror). I remember I threw my syringe across the rooms and I said God help me," Brown said.

Brown is now clean – meth free – and a recovering addict at the Healing Place in Louisville. He agreed to be interviewed because he knows Kentucky's meth problem still plagues thousands in his home state.

And the problem is about to compounded because federal grant money that is used to clean up meth labs is running out. Congress cut it out of the federal budget, and the chances of it returning are slim, administration officials in Washington say.  

"Just last month we had 15 meth labs, so it looks like we're headed for another record in 2011," said Tommy Loving with the Warren County Drug Task Force.

For every pound of meth produced it creates five pounds of corrosive, toxic waste. Currently, the federal COPS grant program helps pay contractors to come each week to haul it away from the Kentucky State Police posts where it is stored.

"It's a serious problem that's going to have to be addressed sooner rather than later," Loving said. "That money is still in place today but I've been told by DEA that it could last a week... could last a month or two but it's also in jeopardy."

That means in a state strapped for cash like Kentucky there could soon be no way to pay to clean up meth labs – compounding an already huge problem.

The county with the most meth problems – Jefferson.

Last year, Louisville Metro Police spent $420,000 cleaning up meth labs.

"That's just Louisville Metro Police... that does not include that does not include our fire department, or EMS," said Sgt. Stan Salyards with LMPD's Narcotics Unit.

The problem is worse in Louisville because unlike state police, LMPD is not authorized to store meth waste nor are its officers trained or licensed to transport it.

With no federal grant money the burden to pay for the clean up will soon fall to taxpayers.

Police say requiring a prescription for drugs containing pseudo ephedrine – a key ingredient used to make meth – would reduce Kentucky's meth problems.

But ask Seth Brown and he'll tell users will always find a way around it.

"That's just a symptom of the problem anyway... the problem is right here," Brown said pointing to his heart.

Brown says the solution won't be found in the halls of Congress or the state legislature.

He says treatment and his arrest were the best things that ever happened to him.

"And to be honest with you man life is on the line. There is not a doubt in my mind doing the things that I've been doing that they'd be burying me," Brown said.

Brown says he prays every night for the drug informant who turned him in.

"But meth was so powerful... that lie... that everything is good. That you are right on point... that's the beast with the meth," he said.

"If I could just say one thing that could help somebody that thinks there is no hope or who is incarcerated... there is a way out. If you are sick and tired... there is a way out... but it's a battle everyday."

Brown's point is that lawmakers could be criminalizing Kentucky's meth epidemic when he believes more resources should be focused towards recovery and education.

Tommy Loving says he believes Kentucky could be on pace to see 1500 meth labs in 2011 – a record for Kentucky, which ranks third nationally below Missouri and Tennessee.

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