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W.Va. lawmakers told of rising miner drug abuse

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When Eugene White went to work in the coal mines in the 1970s, he observed miners who came to work drunk sometimes. Some miners used marijuana, but there was no drug testing, he said.

White, now the director of the Office of Mine Health, Safety and Training told legislators on the Joint Committee on Energy Monday that those past problems pale in comparison to the growing substance abuse issues in West Virginia’s coal mines.

 “Over the years I hadn’t seen this problem until we started doing substance abuse screening,” he said. “I thought after the first year it would go down. I thought after the second year it would go down.

White said drug abuse among coal miners “has just mushroomed.”

More than 800 miners have failed drug tests over the last three years, he continued. In 2013, 309 miners failed drug tests, that number rising to 314 the next year, he said.

So far this year, 214 mining certificates have been suspended because of drug abuse, with prescription drugs the No. 1 substance detected…


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