Willowbrook residents take Sterigenics battle to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The battle over reported cancer causing emissions from the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook took center stage in Springfield Tuesday, as residents voiced their concerns.

It came just days after the Illinois EPA shut down the facility, because tests showed elevated concentrations of ethylene oxide in the air.

Lawmakers filed several bills Tuesday, aimed at protecting residents and banning uncontrolled emissions.

“This health crisis has now evolved into an unmanageable situation with tens of thousands of residents being exposed to direct harm by this cancer causing agent,” Rep. Sam Yingling said.

Legislators are now also broadening their scope and will look into facilities in Waukegan and Gurnee as well.

“We deserve to know if the air we are breathing is safe,” Sen. Melinda Bush said. “That's why I'm introducing legislation to demand the EPA begin testing for ethylene around Vantage and Medline in Lake County immediately.”

Meanwhile, Sterigenics filed an emergency injunction in federal court asking the U.S. EPA to allow them to reopen.

The court hearing is scheduled to continue to Wednesday.

Also Tuesday in Springfield, the spokesman for the Illinois Hospital Association said hospitals across the state use ethylene oxide on a smaller scope to sterilize instruments in house, but said the industry would be willing to transition to other methods if asked.

 

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