Iowa Man Fired for Drinking Ethanol Fuel Denied Unemployment

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A man who claimed discrimination after being fired from an ethanol plant for drinking "automobile fuel" has been denied unemployment benefits.

Cory Neddermeyer, 42, was dismissed by Amaizing Energy in April. The Denison-based company produces ethanol fuel for vehicles in a formula that includes a high concentration of alcohol.

According to Neddermeyer, he showed up for work on April 21 and saw that there had been a spill of fuel alcohol. Hundreds of gallons of 190-proof alcohol were held in a 6-inch-deep holding pond that was about 30 feet by 24 feet.

The liquid had not been blended with gasoline.

"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 was found by co-workers in an incoherent state. He was taken to the hospital, where his blood-alcohol level, according to state records, was reported at 0.72. That's almost twice the level considered potentially fatal for many adults.

Neddermeyer was briefly hospitalized for acute alcohol intoxication. His employer searched his work area and allegedly found three empty bottles that contained trace amounts of the fuel.