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Facts and Fracks: Oil & Gas Companies Turn Down Local Workers for Failed Drug Tests

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WEST UNION -

The oil and gas boom in North Central West Virginia was expected to bring money and jobs.

But protestors in Doddridge County said they're still waiting for those job opportunities to come by.

"Our goal is to have the company BGI give the opportunity for jobs to the local workforce and local young men and women in this area," said Henry Neal, a West Virginia local jobs demonstrator.

Jim Bender, Operations Manager for BGI said the company would love to hire locally, and would, if applicants could pass pre-employment drug tests.

"We are mandated because of the Federation Transportation of the product we are building for. Drug testing is part of the pre-employment and we've had a fair number of failures here as we had in other markets," said Jim Bender, Operations Manager for Benton-Georgia Pipeline Division.

"We are seeing an increase in all industries in West Virginia in implementing substance abuse policies. We're seeing an increase in failure rates for pre-employment drug screenings," said Sharon Boyce-Werdebaugh, owner of WesMar H.R. Consulting.

But some are questioning if rumor and stereotypes proceeded hiring efforts.

"Rumor is that West Virginia people aren't passing the drug test, but that's something we don't know. I'm assuming it's something that has to do with HIPPA laws. Down in Texas, Louisiana area. I don't know if the drug test them down there or up here, or if they even have a drug testing site," Neal said.

"I would say it's potentially an issue. I can't speak for any of my clients to see if they first tried West Virginia only employees before out-sourcing," Boyce-Werdebaugh said.

It's not just pre-employment drug tests that are fueling the issue either.

"An increase in failed random drug screenings," Boyce-Werdebaugh said.

A pipeline project in Miletus earlier in the week critically injured a worker. It's a dangerous job without drugs and alcohol in the picture, but it's practically a death threat when they are present.

"It is a dangerous job," Bender said.

"There's so many opportunities for injury out there. Up to and including death of multiple people. If they don't have a rigorous program in place, they certainly need to look at the options of getting one," Boyce Werdebaugh said.

Share your Facts & Fracks story ideas or comments by emailing Jamie Stover at jstover@wboy.com or contacting her via Facebook.