DEVELOPING STORY: W.Va. Gov. Tomblin Calls for Drug Testing of State's Coal Miners

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is proposing drug testing for all West Virginia coal miners. It's just one provision of a mine safety bill the Governor has been pushing for recently. The legislation would require mandatory, random drug screening for all certified coal mining jobs.

Many are in support of the new bill, while others, see it as more of a distraction. Dwayne Johnston works six days a week at a coal mine. His family says they're constantly worried about his safety.

“He walks out the door and you give him a kiss. You don't know if he's gonna walk back through that door,” Sarah Johnston, the wife of a coal miner said.

Dwayne Johnston says he knows his job comes with many risks, but he believes drug and alcohol shouldn't be one of them.

“I just don't want my life in danger," Dwayne Johnston said. "I put my life at risk anyways going under a mountain, going under ground. I don't want to work with somebody like that."

The coal company he works for and many others already have drug testing policies in place, but says its rare. He says after working for five years at his current location, he struggles remembering being tested.

“Since I’ve been there, I’ve only been drug tested maybe once,” Dwayne. “I think they ought to drug test everywhere more often than what they normally do,” Dwayne said.

But not everyone is on board with the new legislation. The UMWA has already expressed concern, saying that it takes the focus off mine safety and that accidents aren't related to drug abuse.

In a Metro News Radio interview, Gov. Tomblin disagreed.

“There's at least two fatalities that I’ve been informed about that's happened because of impaired workers out there,” Gov. Tomblin said.

The bill will be discussed further this week by lawmakers in Charleston. WSAZ.com will continue to follow this developing story and will have the very latest here and on WSAZ NewsChannel 3.


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