WGN is reporting that there was a secret Sterigenics meeting with an offer of money presented just weeks before the company’s deal with the State of Illinois to reopen its Willowbrook facility.
Secret Sterigenics Meeting Just Weeks Before Deal
On July 17, 2019, Sterigenics and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office filed a proposed agreement to reopen its Willowbrook facility pending approval by the DuPage County Circuit Court. The deal would clear the company to restart operations at one of its two Willowbrook buildings following the installation of new equipment to reduce its emissions of ethylene oxide, a known cancer-causing gas. Sterigenics would also have to contribute $300,000.00 to various community projects in Willowbrook, like “physical improvements or activities, such as educational scholarships or programming.”
In exchange for the company’s compliance, the agreement would absolve Sterigenics of any liability with state regulators for past pollution problems and would not require it to pay any fines to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). The IEPA had effectively shut down the Willowbrook facility in February after independent environmental testing found “the highest levels of [ethylene oxide] recorded in the area to date.”
The deal angered many area residents and lawmakers, especially since it had been struck without community knowledge or support. A DuPage County judge later delayed approval of the agreement until at least September 6 to allow impacted communities to provide public comments. And on August 1, when the Environmental Protection Agency was scheduled to meet with Willowbrook residents to discuss the deal, WGN Investigates reported on a secret Sterigenics meeting that took place just weeks before the agreement was filed.
According to WGN, Sterigenics met with multiple public officials in late June to discuss reopening its Willowbrook plant. The secret Sterigenics meeting allegedly included the mayor, the village manager, and a trustee from Willowbrook, representatives from the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, and the Illinois Attorney General. According to a source who spoke with WGN, an offer was made at the meeting for Sterigenics to pay the Village of Willowbrook as little as $600,000.00. A second source confirmed that Willowbrook’s mayor later rejected the offer.
“$600,000.00 wouldn’t cover medical expenses for a lifetime of fighting cancer — for one person,” said activist Meringa Zymancius of Stop Sterigenics. “Their poison reaches twenty miles out. Coming from a $5 billion dollar parent company, they might as well spit in our face.”
The deal to reopen the Willowbrook facility was filed only two-and-a-half weeks after the reported secret Sterigenics meeting. A spokesperson for the DuPage County State’s Attorney said that reports of a payment offer were inaccurate but declined further comment. The Illinois Attorney General’s office would neither confirm nor deny the meeting, though it claimed that offers of money had nothing to do with the plant Willowbrook reopening.
Are You Suffering from Cancer in the Willowbrook Area?
GWC Injury Lawyers has been retained by several individuals who have lived or worked near the Sterigenics facility for a number of years and have developed cancer or other serious medical conditions that may be related to their exposure to ethylene oxide gas.
If you have lived or worked near the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook and have been diagnosed with cancer, contact GWC today for a free consultation. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.