Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Aftereffects of a Meth Lab

This is a really screwed up story that was published in the New York Times, but hopefully this will put pressure on our public officials to do something about it. Several families that were interviewed for this article (and there are likely many more across the country) bought houses that were previously used to make methamphetamine. This has resulted in people, particularly small children, suffering from health aliments, resulting in trips to the emergency room. And what's worse, in many states, the buyer of the poisonous home is held responsible for the cost of cleaning up the home.

First off, I'm a huge fan of the show "Breaking Bad", but that aside, meth dealers and users are serious scum (at least Walter White has the decency to make meth in an RV). This is just a failure on the part of all parties (and I'm including the buyers too) to do proper due dilligence on these contaminated homes. The real estate companies selling these homes should have conducted the proper testing, especially if the home is in a rural part of the country, where meth is most prevalent. The police, being as they would be the most informed of any party as to the origins of a meth home, should have made that information available to the general public. But as one person said on the comments page, they just rolled up their crime tape and went back to the station. The homeowners, although I feel terribly for them, might have been able to do some digging and come up with the conclusion that they were moving into a toxic money pit.

But the party with the biggest responsibility is our federal and state governments. Our federal government is waiting on the Environmental Protection Agency to issue guidelines for cleanup, but the report was due last year. While over a third of states have issued legislation requiring meth contamination cleanup, nearly all of them hold the current homeowner responsible for the costs of cleaning up the property. Only Colorado allocates federal money to help innocent homeowners with the tab.

This is yet more irrefutable proof that our political system is broken and that no one in power is willing to step up and do the right thing. In the meantime, these families are facing financial ruin. A good first step would be to make any mortgage that was used to buy a dangerous, infected property, null and void. Another step would be to make the history of any home on the market more transparent, or probably better yet, just destroying any home that was used as a meth lab.

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