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WILLOWBROOK, Ill. — Hundreds of new lawsuits have been filed against Sterigenics, alleging people have developed cancer because of emissions from the Willowbrook plant.

Stergenics permanently closed last year, but lawsuits continue to pour in. The reason so many were filed this week is because the statute of limitations was running out. 

“It’s really a horrific thing for these people that have lived through this for years and years now,” Antonio Romanucci, lead counsel, said.

More than 700 new lawsuits have been filed against Sterigenics. The victims claim the toxic emissions coming from the Willowbrook plant caused cancer, miscarriages and other health problems.  

“I’ve walked into households where it’s not just one person who’s inflicted with cancer, it’s the entire household,” Romanucci said.

Romanucci said hundreds of people never knew why their families were getting sick until two years ago.  

“They did start finding answers on Aug. 21, 2018 when that report was issued and they found out for the first time that Sterigenics who was operating this plant in an industrial park in Willowbrook was contaminating their residential neighborhoods,” he said.

Sterigenics sterilized medical equipment, and in doing so, emitted ethylene oxide into the air. 

A spokesperson for the company said the following: 

“Sterigenics empathizes with anyone battling cancer, but we are confident that operations at our Willowbrook facility are not responsible for causing the illnesses alleged in any lawsuit. As we have stated previously, we intend to vigorously defend against the plaintiffs’ unfounded and meritless claims.” 

Each of the 700 cases will be handled individually in court. 

Romanucci said the lawsuits give victims a sense of purpose, and another step towards healing.  

“The goal of the litigation is to make that attempt is to see can we make them whole but we know in this circumstance even money can’t make them whole but it certainly can try we can do our best,” he said.

The initial 73 lawsuits are currently in the discovery stage.