Scott County

Meth lab cleanup could cost criminals

SCOTT CO., Va. - Cleaning up a meth lab is a hazardous job. It is also expensive, sometimes costing thousands of dollars.

That's why the Board of Supervisors in Scott County, Virginia passed an ordinance requiring anyone convicted of making meth to pay for the cleanup of the lab.

Sheriff John Puckett says cleanup can be expensive. "A five-gallon bucket of hazardous waste, a lot of times it's $1,000 to dispose of it. The average lab we've had has probably been $2,000 to $2,500 to clean up," he said.

The changes may not mean a whole lot of differences from a legal perspective. "From a professional stand point it doesn't really change much. We always seek restitution in every case," says Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Scott County, Dan Fellhauer.

Residents in Scott County say they are happy there's now a chance to make a convicted criminal pay for the clean up process. "I think it should be left on them. They're the ones that made the mess, let them clean it up," adds Tammy Springen.

But Sheriff Puckett says having the ordinance can only be another step of protection so taxpayers aren't footing the bill. "It helps when you've got a county ordinance because you can get restitution, because a lot of times it goes through civil action," he said. "This way here they can add it to the cost, or go after civil action later."

Getting that cleanup money back can be a slow process, especially if the convicted drug maker is in jail.

"We will eventually and slowly, unless they want to keep going back to jail and stay on probation, we'll get it eventually," adds Fellhauer.

The good news for Scott County residents is that very few meth labs have been found in recent months. We're told the last lab was found in the summer of 2012.

We asked Sheriff Puckett about training deputies to cleanup meth labs, but he says there just is not enough manpower in his department to do so.

This ordinance goes into effect immediately. 

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