WILLOWBROOK, Ill. – Lawsuits were filed against a suburban company claiming it is pumping cancer-causing material into the air and making people sick.
West suburban residents are demanding action and accountability and want Sterigenics shut down.
Among those who want the company shut down is Andrea Thome. In 2007, Thome’s parents moved to Willowbrook to help her family while her husband, MLB Hall of Famer Jim Thome, traveled to finish his baseball career.
Seven years later, her mother died after an “excruciating battle with liver and kidney disease,” Thome, who is an author, shared on her blog.
Now she says her father is trying to reclaim his life after a huge brain tumor.
“My mom liked to have her window open, half mile from Sterigenics. Coincidence? I’m not so sure,” she said. “my dad everyday worries about this tumor coming back. That’s no way to live. That’s waiting to die.”
A federal report released in August found people living near Sterigenics in Willowbrook face some of the highest cancer risks in the country. The company uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment and other goods. Nearly 20,000 people live within a mile of the facility and several schools are nearby.
“This is my new work now, to get Sterigenics out of our neighborhood,” Thome said.
Thursday attorneys for Ryan Feeney, 26, filed a lawsuit against Sterigenics. Feeney was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010. He lives in Burr Ridge and attended Hinsdale South High School.
“I want justice to be served,” Feeney said. “Served for the community.”
There was also a separate class action lawsuit filed Thursday against Sterigenics.
The company has said it has a strong record of EPA compliance. A spokesperson would not comment on pending litigation.
Sterigenics is owned by a private equity firm co-founded by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner left the firm in 2012 before running for governor.