CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The West Virginia Legislature has begun weighing the potential benefits and burdens of testing coal miners for drugs.
Eugene White is a top state mine regulator. He told lawmakers Monday that around 200 of the 5,400 complaints his inspectors checked out last year involved drugs. White said his agency would need more staff, training and resources for a mandatory screening program.
White also noted that no investigation has blamed drugs for the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster. A report from White's agency about the Raleigh County explosion that killed 29 miners is expected at the end of this month.
An industry official cited several recent fatal accidents to urge legislative support of drug testing. Lawmakers were also told that neighboring states have suspended nearly 2,000 miners because of drugs.