Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x3 - IEPA responds *** Leader Durkin files bill to immediately close Rauner-owned plant
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*** UPDATED x3 - IEPA responds *** Leader Durkin files bill to immediately close Rauner-owned plant

Friday, Aug 31, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Remember this story?

Two low-slung industrial buildings, tucked behind a Target store in west suburban Willowbrook, are about as nondescript as they come. For years, they have been home to Sterigenics International, a company that has quietly gone about its business of fumigating medical instruments, pharmaceutical drugs and food to kill bacteria and pests.

But a new federal study is putting a bright spotlight on the company, finding that people living nearby face some the nation’s highest cancer risks from toxic air pollution.

A gas used by the company, ethylene oxide, is far more dangerous than previously thought, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In one census tract near the plant, the EPA estimates the risk of cancer is more than nine times the national average.

Another federal agency concluded the cancer risks could be significantly higher. […]

The company also stands out because since 2011 it has been owned by a private equity firm co-founded by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who left the firm a year later to begin campaigning for public office. […]

“This is not an emergency. This is not a public health immediate crisis. This is something we are managing,” Rauner told reporters after a bill-signing event in Chicago. “We are going to work with the federal government to monitor this whole situation … and try to reduce exposures from this as much as we can.” [Emphasis added.]

* As Anders Lindall pointed out, the governor still has a personal stake in that company…

* Today, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who represents Willowbrook, introduced this bill

Provides that a facility emitting ethylene oxide at levels higher than federal or State standards shall immediately cease operations until the level of emissions are reduced below both federal and State standards. [Emphasis added.]

The leader apparently disagrees with the governor that this situation is “not an emergency.”

And while I seriously doubt that the bill is a direct result of Rauner throwing him under the bus at the Daily Herald yesterday, I don’t doubt that it probably felt just a wee bit satisfying to file this bill today.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…

State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) is joining local officials, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla, in calling on Sterigenics International, Inc. to cease operations until further testing is completed.

“Recent news reports and discussions at a town meeting this past week have many people, myself included, greatly concerned about the safe operation of the Sterigenics facility. New research from the USEPA indicates that ethylene oxide is far more dangerous to the public than previously believed,” said Curran. “Given the new revelations about the dangers of ethylene oxide, I join with those encouraging Sterigenics to cease operations at the Willowbrook facility until further testing is done.”

The letter sent to the company on Friday, which was signed by state, local and municipal officials (see attached), notes that it is “imperative that the community be assured that Sterigenics is acting as a good corporate citizen and are taking all steps necessary to protect those who are potentially impacted by the emissions of ethylene oxide from their facility.”

Curran says today’s letter is just a first step in addressing the concerns residents have about this facility. “Next week I intend to file legislation in the Illinois Senate that will create new notification protocols that will alert surrounding property owners of an air emission leak, reopen the company’s current air permit for additional public comment and expand the public comment period for any future permit renewals.”

Throughout this process, Curran has also been conferring with the Attorney General, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency and will continue working with them to make sure they have all regulatory and enforcement tools necessary to protect the public health and safety.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Oof…

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Illinois EPA…

Under current law, should Sterigenics, or any other permitted facility, violate any condition of its permit such as an emissions standard, the Illinois EPA would initiate appropriate action, whether that be enforcement or other corrective action. The type of action depends upon the nature and severity of the violation. If such a violation involved an imminent threat to human health or the environment, the Agency would send that matter to the Attorney General for enforcement, including immediate injunctive relief.

And they’re not making that referral because the company is currently in compliance with both state and federal environmental regulations.


  1. - Honeybadger - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 1:40 pm:

    Good for Durkin. Now continue showing some spine and work with the majority and get some bi-partisan legislation passed.

  2. - JoanP - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    “Not an emergency . . . Not a public heath crisis . . . We are managing the situation”

    Sounds pretty much like what he said about the problem in Quincy. And about as truthful.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    Leaders Durkin and Brady… with them all day.

    At some point, be it in January or 2022, Raunerism will leave. It’s critical that the legislative caucuses held hostage by both Rauners find their voices sooner, for the sake of this state and the party both Rauners are purposely imploding.

    This is good, the layers of good make this better than good.

  4. - Leigh John-Ella - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    He should ask Speaker Madigan for a special session in hopes of getting this to the gov’s desk quickly and addressing the public health crisis now.

  5. - Anon - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    Y’all think there’s any way I can trademark #GovernorKill?

  6. - Anon - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    The Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to assign this bill to the House Executive Committee.

  7. - Grand Avenue - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    Here’s some good news for the House GOP, the Dems aren’t going to run anyone against Mike McAuliffe

    That should free up about $2 Million to spend on other races.

  8. - The Dude Abides - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    Durkin sees a Governor that will probably be gone in January and he has acted in the best interest of his District instead of doing what the boss wants.

  9. - DuPage Bard - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    You may not think it was in response but the timing is about one of the best things I’ve seen in a while.

  10. - Grand Avenue - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    You also had the press conference earlier this week where the HGOP basically assumed Pritzker was going to win and said vote for House Republicans so they can block Pritzker’s tax hikes.

  11. - DuPage - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:11 pm:

    Nursing homes, Veteran’s home, now this. This sort of thing seems to always show up as Rauner investments.

  12. - Ole' Nelson - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    This couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. The governor has a history of putting his own profits and success above the needs of others. He is definitely in it for himself, and a setback for him is likely a plus for the commoners.

    I also hope this is a sign that Leader Durkin sees the writing on the wall and is no longer willing to take his marching orders from a sinking ship.

  13. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    “Durkin sees a Governor that will probably be gone in January and he has acted in the best interest of his District instead of doing what the boss wants.” - - The Dude Abides - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:02 pm:


  14. - Stumpy's bunker - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:43 pm:

    9 X the national cancer rate = public health crisis

  15. - 47th Ward - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    ===Today, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who represents Willowbrook, introduced this bill…===

    I hear Madigan has already assigned it to committee and scheduled a hearing.

    Mike Madigan and the Illinois House Republican Leaders he controls.

  16. - Stumpy's bunker - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:45 pm:

    GOP GA: your Raunerbucks come from things like this

  17. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Just a note-the SEC definition of “control person” is a bit esoteric and should not be taken to assume control over the operations of a private equity fund or any of its portfolio companies.

    Having said that, good bill, Rep. Durkin.

  18. - Roman - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 2:54 pm:

    That’ll give the tough Tribune headline new life.

  19. - Stumpy's bunker - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 3:12 pm:

    Jane Byrne moved to Cabrini-Green in response to big problems there. Since the Willowbrook problem is “not an emergency”, “being monitored” and managed, Bruce & Diana should take up a bungalow in the neighborhood to show solidarity with the residents there.

  20. - Popeye - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 3:30 pm:

    Print all the personal information of each of those people listed. Time for public shaming of these other partners they made a lot of money at people’s expense, none of those people care about Willowbrook or the people who live near that facility, like Bruce, money is all that matters to them. Lets fins out who these people are and where do they live.

  21. - Perrid - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    @Popeye, I would prefer shaming the guys that actually run the factory. Even if the managers are under pressure from the owners, at the end of the day they are still the ones that decided to go ahead with what is apparently dangerous policies. Not saying the owners should get off scott free, just that they probably should not be first in line.

  22. - The Dude Abides - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 4:04 pm:

    Rauner loves to use the veto pen. If Durkin’s bill makes it to his desk will he veto it or let it sit on his desk for 59 days which he has been known to do before making a decision.

  23. - don the legend - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 4:21 pm:

    I thought Rauner made it clear to his caucus that he didn’t want any f*%#$&^g problems.

  24. - Jibba - Friday, Aug 31, 18 @ 4:27 pm:

    “…they are currently in compliance…”

    This. And this is why people need to be concerned with who is running the USEPA. Think you are going to see new regulatory limits under Trump that reflect this new research? Not on your actual life. Be lucky the limits aren’t increased.

    This is the true deep state at work. Normally it is how business and government work together to keep you safe yet keep business happening. The EPA should be leading the dance, but not now nor under most Republican administrations.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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