A newspaper says federal mine inspectors are behind schedule and the government can't find experienced inspectors to replace ones who have left.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that in fiscal 2006, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration fell 245 inspections short of its goal of more than five-thousand inspections a year. That's more than five times the 43 inspections the agency failed to make the year before.
The newspaper found the agency also is losing experienced inspectors at an alarming rate.
The agency hired 163 new coal mine inspectors in the last two fiscal years, but it lost 147 through retirement or resignations during that period.
Retired inspectors who spoke with the paper said that means more inexperienced inspectors are on the job -- and they say that's dangerous.