Residents outraged after EPA report links Willowbrook facility to carcinogens

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WILLOWBROOK, Ill. — Lawmakers and residents are taking action against a contract sterilization plant in west suburban Willowbrook.

A new federal study shows people living near the Sterigenics International plant at 7775 S. Quincy St. in Willowbrook face some the country’s highest cancer risks from toxic air pollution. The Chicago Tribune reports that federal officials began investigating the company last year after surrounding communities were identified on a national map of health hazards from breathing toxic chemicals.

On Friday, Illinois state Rep. Jim Durkin introduced a bill that would temporarily shut down the plant. Residents protested outside the facility Friday.

Sterigenics is owned by a private equity firm co-founded by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner left the firm in 2012 before running for governor.

Earlier this week, hundreds attended a community meeting to learn more about the company and to voice their concerns. Nearly 20,000 people in southeast DuPage County live within a mile of the Willowbrook facility. Four schools and a day care center are also located near the facility.

At that meeting, representatives from Sterigenics tried to reassure the public.

“We do at the facility have continuous monitors to measure ethylene oxide concentrations,” Kathy Hoffman, senior vice president of Sterigenics, said.

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