Residents around the Sterigenics facility in suburban Willowbrook took their fight to keep the plant permanently closed to state legislators on Tuesday.
The “Stop Sterigenics” community group met at Borse Park to board buses headed for Springfield, Illinois, to meet with lawmakers on the issue.
The controversial facility was “shut down” Friday evening after new test results showed emissions of “the highest levels of [ethylene oxide] recorded in the area,” the mayor of Willowbrook said. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen. The EPA posted the results of 12 days of air-quality testing from late November into mid-December. Environmental health experts said the data collected indicates the cancer risk was at more than six extra cancers per 1,000 people. The EPA considers one extra cancer per million an acceptable limit.
“As a result of Willowbrook’s new testing, I have been notified by the Illinois EPA that Sterigenics will be shut down this evening,” Mayor Frank Trilla said in a statement Friday.
The EPA released new air quality numbers surrounding the controversial Sterigenics plant. NBC 5‘s Ash-har Quraishi has the details on concerned neighbors who have now renewed their fight for action.
(Published Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019)
The IEPA confirmed it has issued a Seal Order on the facility at 7775 S. Quincy St. “to prevent the commencement of any new sterilization cycles using ethylene oxide to prevent emissions which present an imminent and substantial endangerment to residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community.”
Sterigenics said the EPA‘s decision was “indefensible.”
“Unilaterally preventing a business that is operating in compliance with all state permits and regulations from carrying out its vital function sets a dangerous precedent,” the company said in a statement. “The Illinois EPA’s decision will place the health and lives of thousands of patients who rely on the critical medical products sterilized at Willowbrook at risk.”
Sterigenics also said they would comply with the order but also take legal actions to reverse the decision.
The “Stop Sterigenics” group will meet with lawmakers Tuesday in hopes to get other facilities emitting that chemical compound in Illinois and across the country shut down as well.