KANSAS CITY— Missouri’s new system of disposing of waste from methamphetamine labs has saved the state millions of dollars and reduced the chances of toxic chemicals from meth production causing environmental problems, Gov. Bob Holden said Wednesday.
The Clandestine Drug Lab Collection Station Program, set up by the Department of Public Safety, is available to any public agency in Missouri. Its 20 specially designed facilities, at locations around the state, are stocked with equipment and supplies ranging from chemical test kits to protective clothing.
The first collection station opened at the Sedalia Fire Department in 1998.
Since then, Holden said, “The hazardous waste from 6,700 meth labs has been cleaned up at a savings to the state of $15 million over the traditional cleanup approach.”
Speaking on the final day of his Governor’s Meth Summit Conference, Holden also said Missouri’s best chance to continue making headway in its long fight against methamphetamine is in educating the state’s younger residents about the dangers of the drug.
“We’ve got to be much more proactive in terms of education,” he said. “I think that’s where we have our greatest opportunity for success. To reach our young people before they even start — that’s the best thing we could do for the state of Missouri.”
The three-day conference drew about 300 people from around the state in law enforcement, education, emergency response, social service and other organizations that deal with Missouri’s meth program.
Holden’s predecessor, the late Mel Carnahan, convened the first meth summit in 1997.
Speakers covered topics ranging from the child-safety issues raised by methamphetamine to the stimulant’s history in Missouri, and representatives of the various agencies shared concerns and meth-fighting tips.
“The more we can get together and get our heads together and talk about critical issues, the better off we’re going to be,” Kansas City Police Chief Rick Easley said. “The networking is extremely important in our profession.”
The seizure of 2,860 meth labs in Missouri in 2003 and the first two months of 2004 shows that law enforcement is doing its job, Holden said.
“Success should be when meth is not an issue,” Holden said. “We know we’re a long way from that.”
Earlier this year, Holden signed executive orders creating three anti-meth task forces: one dealing with law enforcement and environmental protection, one with education and prevention, and one with treatment.
“We must address this now,” Holden said Wednesday. “It cannot be left for future generations.”
Those task forces also met at the summit, which coincided with the Missouri Police Chiefs Association’s annual meeting.