GWC Files Suit Against Sterigenics Over Exposure to Cancer-Causing Emissions

SterigenicsCHICAGO (August 20, 2019) – GWC Injury Lawyers LLC has joined multiple other law firms in filing a total of 32 new lawsuits in the Circuit Court of Cook County on behalf of Plaintiffs who are suffering from cancer as a result of their exposure to ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions from the Sterigenics sterilization facility in Willowbrook, IL.

“Sterigenics has knowingly polluted Willowbrook and its surrounding communities for over three decades,” said GWC Partner Lance D. Northcutt. “It has repeatedly placed profits ahead of the health of its neighbors and community members.”

Sterigenics, whose links to high cancer risks have been well documented in the media, has been operating its facility in Willowbrook since 1984. As part of its sterilization procedures, the facility makes use of ethylene oxide gas. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that human exposure to ethylene oxide could significantly increase the likelihood of various forms of cancer, including breast cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. But as far back as 1977, various governmental and non-governmental reports have consistently recognized ethylene oxide as dangerous, toxic, and carcinogenic.

Despite these known risks, Sterigenics continued to emit excessive volumes of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere for more than three decades, endangering thousands while failing to warn residents and neglecting to implement appropriate safety measures. As a result of the company’s negligence, the areas surrounding its Willowbrook facility have some of the highest cancer rates in the country.

Even after Sterigenics installed new pollution-control equipment in 2018 in response to a federal agency’s report that determined that the company was releasing dangerously high levels of ethylene oxide gas, ethylene oxide emissions in the area actually went up. Testing in February 2019 found some of the highest levels of ethylene oxide recorded in the area to date, which prompted the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit the Willowbrook facility from using ethylene oxide.

Sterigenics recently struck a deal with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to restart operations in Willowbrook following the installation of equipment to dramatically reduce its emissions of ethylene oxide – but it has not promised to eliminate the use of the cancer-causing chemical entirely. Sterigenics has repeatedly claimed that there is no viable alternative to ethylene oxide for sterilizing medical supplies, though in fact there are effective sterilization methods available that do not require using a known carcinogen.

“Sterigenics has had repeated opportunities to make its sterilization processes safer,” said Mr. Northcutt. “Instead, it has chosen to rely on a dangerous, but inexpensive, method which has poisoned the Willowbrook community. This is a corporation that cannot return to operations.”

Even if Sterigenics remains shut down in Willowbrook, the company cannot undo the serious damage it has already inflicted on so many – including GWC’s clients and their families.

“None of these Plaintiffs is affected in a vacuum,” Mr. Northcutt said. “Each EtO-related diagnosis impacts so much more than just the person receiving the diagnosis. It affects spouses, children, family members, friends, and loved ones too.”

Sterigenics Lawsuit Attorneys

With over $2 billion recovered for its clients and more than four decades in practice, GWC Injury Lawyers is one of the premier personal injury and workers’ compensation law firms in Illinois. GWC has been retained by various individuals who have lived or worked near the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook for a number of years and have developed cancer or other serious medical conditions that may be related to their exposure to ethylene oxide.

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.