The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has shut down the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook. The shutdown follows recent testing in the area that shows the “highest levels” to date of ethylene oxide, a known cancer-causing chemical. Sterigenics uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment, drugs, and food.
Governor Orders Shut Down Over Findings
On February 15, Governor JB Pritzker ordered the IEPA to take action against the company’s Willowbrook facility. IPEA Director John Kim issued a “Seal Order” prohibiting the company from pumping ethylene oxide gas into sterilization chambers. The order effectively shut down the facility’s operations.
The move follows recent scientific findings by private consultants. Willowbrook officials had hired the consultants to collect air samples in the area surrounding Sterigenics from February 5 through 8. An official statement said the testing showed “extreme daily fluctuations” in ethylene oxide levels and “the highest levels of [ethylene oxide] recorded in the area to date.”
Willowbrook Frustrated With Slow Response
Willowbrook officials took action because they were frustrated with the slow pace of the federal and state investigations into the Sterigenics crisis. Just last week, the federal EPA said the agency did not have enough evidence yet to take action. The agency announced the delay despite data suggesting the cancer threat appeared to be getting worse.
Federal and state officials first began looking into Sterigenics in 2017 after determining that cancer risks in one area near the plant were more than nine times the national average. By August 2018, an agency at the Department of Health and Human Services had estimated that the cancer risks could be even more serious. Later testing found that spikes of ethylene oxide were at higher levels than before Sterignenics installed its new pollution-control equipment earlier in the year.
Sterigenics Facing Further Opposition
Sterigenics has vowed to fight the shutdown, calling the IEPA’s actions “indefensible.” But the company will likely face further opposition from public officials.
Two days before the Seal Order, six Illinois lawmakers sent a letter requesting the EPA’s intervention. In the letter, the lawmakers called for a criminal investigation into the company in response to a recent news report. The report alleged that Sterigenics used secret sites to release ethylene oxide gas and dumped toxic chemicals into public sewers.
Sterigenics Lawsuit Attorneys
The GWC Law Firm has been retained by several parties who have lived or worked near the Sterigenics facility for a number of years and have developed cancers 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, IL and have been diagnosed with cancer, contact the GWC Law firm for a free consultation today. Call us at (312) 999-9999 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.