CHICAGO -- A hearing was held Friday on the cancer risks at the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook.
It comes amid a new report from the Chicago Tribune, that the Trump and Rauner Administrations hid information from the public for months about that risk.
Records obtained by the Tribune show the Rauner administration worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency between December and August on an investigation of Sterigenics, and discussed possible solutions for the company's pollution problem.
Records show that state officials deferred to political appointees in President Donald Trump’s administration to determine when and how to tell the public about the problem.
A preliminary federal analysis linked Willowbrook's unusually high cancer risks to the company’s emissions of ethylene oxide, a gas used to sterilize medical instruments, pharmaceuticals and food.
"This doesn't have to be as complicated as people make it out to be," said Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla. "Either the product is safe to breathe and live in, or it's not. If it is, establish the level that is safe. If it's not, shut them down."
Rauner‘s opponent in a bitter gubernatorial battle , Democrat JB Pritzker, blasted the Republican incumbent for having a financial stake in Sterigenics and according to Pritzker, failed to protect the people of Willowbrook.
In a statement, Pritzker said “While a company Bruce Rauner owns continued to poison DuPage county, we now know that Rauner and Trump worked hand in hand to hide Sterigenics highest in the nation cancer risks from the public for eight months. This unconscionable neglect of Illinois families is one of the greatest failures of Bruce Rauner‘s tenure as governor."
Rauner released a statement that said:
Governor Rauner has called for the Sterigenic’s Willowbrook facility to pause operations until the U.S. EPA can bring some clarity to the health risks associated with EtO. Today’s legislative hearing reinforced that decision.
Our Administration has provided all the necessary information and potential legal paths. We are working with the Illinois Attorney General to file the appropriate complaint that could lead to enforcement against Sterigenics.