From the Des Moines Register
Man fired for getting gassed on spilled ethanol at work
Cory Neddermeyer had a blood alcohol level that was double what is considered to be lethal.
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
An Iowa judge has denied unemployment benefits to a man who claimed discrimination after being fired from an ethanol plant for drinking “automobile fuel” produced by the company.
Cory Neddermeyer, 42, was fired in April from Amaizing Energy in Denison, where he worked as a maintenance technician. The company produces ethanol fuel for vehicles in a formula that includes a high concentration of alcohol.
Neddermeyer was fired after an April 21 incident at the Denison plant. According to Neddermeyer, he showed up for work that morning and saw that there had been a spill of fuel alcohol. Hundreds of gallons of 190-proof alcohol were contained in a 6-inch-deep holding pond that was about 30 feet by 24 feet.
It proved to be too much to resist, Neddermeyer said.
“I am a recovering alcoholic, and I thought about the availability of this alcohol throughout the day,” he wrote in a statement later provided to state officials. “Curious about the taste and its effects, I dipped into this lake of liquor and drank what I considered to be 2 to 3 ounces. The next thing I remember is waking up in Crawford County Memorial Hospital.”
Neddermeyer had been found by his co-workers in an incoherent state, unable to say his name or the day of the week.
He was taken to a hospital, where his blood-alcohol level, according to state records, was reported at 0.72 – nine times the legal limit for driving, and almost double the level that is considered potentially fatal for many adults.
He was briefly hospitalized for acute alcohol intoxication, during which time his employer searched his work area and allegedly found three empty pop bottles that contained trace amounts of the fuel.
At a subsequent state hearing on Neddermeyer’s request for unemployment benefits, plant manager Jeff Bruck expressed shock at Neddermeyer’s actions.
“This is a fuel alcohol,” Bruck testified. “This is an explosive product.”
The liquid had not been blended with gasoline.
At the hearing, Administrative Law Judge Teresa Hillary asked Neddermeyer, “Why would you drink fuel?”
“I don’t have a good explanation for that,” he replied. “Curiosity?”
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