Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) Wednesday released the following statement on the latest allegations made against the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook:
“The latest allegations against Sterigenics are beyond troubling and once again call into question their commitment to the safety of our communities and their employees. I am not convinced, nor are many of the families that I represent, that Sterigenics is willing to make the changes necessary to ensure our health and safety. So I am calling on Sterigenics to immediately shut their doors and leave our community.”
According to the law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., “Federal officials began investigating Sterigenics International last year after surrounding communities were identified on a national map of health hazards from breathing toxic chemicals. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a gas used by the company, ethylene oxide, is far more dangerous than previously thought and could cause cancer, birth defects, and other health problems. The report showed that in one area near the plant, the estimated risk of cancer is more than nine times the national average.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit October 30 against Sterigenics “for allegedly polluting the air with toxic chemicals,” Healthcare Weekly reports.
Sterigenics claimed in a November 2018 statement that the EPA’s findings were the result of “flawed data.” On Feb. 5, 2019, the company released the following statement:
Sterigenics is reviewing the U.S. EPA’s recently released air sample results. As the EPA highlighted in its call to discuss the results, there are other sources of ethylene oxide (EO) in the Willowbrook area unrelated to the Sterigenics facility. The range of results in the residential areas of Willowbrook
areconsistent with background levels of EO across the Chicago area. We acknowledge that there are several readings closer to the Willowbrook facility that arehigher than background levels and we will be meeting soon with the U.S. EPA and IL EPA to discuss those readings .
As stated by the EPA, the levels of EO in the ambient air test results reflect “extremely low levels in the atmosphere…part per billion and part per trillion numbers and it doesn’t take very much of this material or any material to cause those kinds of levels in the air.” In addition, the EPA commented that “monitoring information about ethylene oxide in the Willowbrook area remains limited. It remains premature to draw conclusions about long-term health risks from the data.”
Sterigenics is committed to the safety of our employees, the communities we operate in and the patients we serve. We continue to operate well within the limits of our permit and all applicable regulations. By complying with and going above and beyond what the regulations require, the Sterigenics Willowbrook facility safely uses EO and provides a vital service to patients in Illinois and across the country. Sterigenics remains committed to working with regulators, legislators and Illinois public officials to evolve regulations and continuously improve our operations in the ongoing interest of public safety.
Governor JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the following joint statement about ongoing efforts to address the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook, Illinois.
“Recent media reports of alleged improper handling of dangerous chemicals at the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook and reports of elevated EtO levels within the Willowbrook community are deeply disturbing, and we urge the U.S. EPA to take swift and effective action to protect the health and safety of families living near the facility. The Illinois EPA will meet with the U.S. EPA and Sterigenics today. After this meeting, we will evaluate any outcomes and exercise all available legal authority to protect the community from this exposure.” (H/T Rich Miller at Capitolfax.com for this addition.)
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