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Andrea Thome taking a lead role against Sterigenics

Thursday, Sep 27, 2018

* A bunch of retired athletes live in Burr Ridge, including Jim Thome and his family

A meeting over Sterigenics controversy in Willowbrook wrapped up Wednesday at the Marriott and people are very upset.

Andrea Thome moved her parents to the southwest suburbs after Hall of Famer husband Jim Thome settled his baseball career in Chicago.

But that’s where the fairytale part of their story stops.

“They both moved here in 2007 healthy, vibrant,” Andrea Thome said. “Within seven years my mom died of liver disease.”

“Then my dad got a brain tumor this past December,” she said.

The family lives in Burr Ridge, within a couple miles of Sterigenics.

Bo Jackson and NBC 5 anchor Allison Rosati also live there. Ozzie Guillen used to live there.

Sterigenics is owned by the firm co-founded by Gov. Bruce Rauner. He retired from the firm a year after it bought the company.

This story is not going away.

* Ms. Thome has been speaking at public events about the poisoning of her and other communities. Here’s ABC 7

Andrea Thome sat down with ABC7’s Mark Rivera at her home just a few miles away from Sterigenics to have a frank conversation about the company she said has been slowly poisoning the community for decades and the personal costs to her family.

Thome’s passionate voice is on the front lines of a fight for clean air in her community.

“I have not been able to sleep since I heard this information in August about this company really slowly poisoning our community for the last 30 or so years without our knowledge,” she said. […]

“My mom passed away in October of 2014. She never smoked she never drank,” Thome said. “Little did she know there was a factory a mile away poisoning her. None of us knew.”

After her mother died, her father took up more outside exercise to cope.

“This Christmas he was diagnosed with a huge brain tumor that, thank God for the doctors at Rush Hospital, Dr. Burn cut out a giant tumor on Christmas Eve and saved my dad’s life,” she said.

Ms. Thome is a former TV reporter, so she knows that medium well.


“My mom liked to have her window open, half mile from Sterigenics. Coincidence? I’m not so sure,” she said. “my dad everyday worries about this tumor coming back. That’s no way to live. That’s waiting to die.” […]

“This is my new work now, to get Sterigenics out of our neighborhood,” Thome said.

* She’s also an author and has started a blog to write about the issue

It’s almost midnight, and sleep won’t come. My mind is racing. You see, our community is in crisis.

A real crisis.

We’ve been being poisoned by a company called Sterigenics, and it’s been happening without our knowledge since the mid-1980’s. Our cancer rates are disturbingly higher than the national average, but only in a several-mile radius surrounding this plant. Maybe it was more appropriate for them to be granted a permit in 1986, but we all know that this area’s population has boomed since then, and that our highly residential area is no place for them to continue to operate in present day. They burn and emit twenty-four-hours a day, seven days a week.

They’ve got to go before they kill any more of us.

No, I’m not being dramatic. They use a highly-toxic chemical called Ethylene Oxide to sterilize plastic medical equipment, burning off the residual toxic poison directly into the air from their twin smokestacks.

They are located yards away from the shopping center that houses our Target, Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle and the brand-new Marshalls everyone is so excited about.

* Related…

* Editorial: The urgent Sterigenics question in DuPage: How much cancer risk?: The Sterigenics plant isn’t isolated in some vast industrial tract. It’s next to homes, parks and schools — places where children learn, play and live, communities that people have been rooted in for years. Kelleher, of Darien, told Hawthorne, “To think the very place my wife loved, the place where we raised our children, might have killed her is devastating.”

* Residents discuss legal options after claims of cancer-causing emissions from suburban plant: One woman says she’s lived in the area for 40 years and has experienced respiratory problems amongst other ailments. “I’ve had blood in the urine and I’ve had things that I commonly don’t have. Just living in the area we loved it so much and I told my husband like a nightmare I actually was thinking of leaving,” says Kathy Scumaci.

* Ex-Willowbrook residents allege emissions from Sterigenics facility caused health problems: They are represented by attorneys Todd A. Smith and Brian LaCien of Power, Rogers & Smith LLP in Chicago, and John Libra of Korein Tillery LLC in Chicago.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Former Downstater - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    Things always change when wealthy and well known people are impacted.

  2. - DarkHorse - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    Rather than debate their TV ads, I’d like to know what the IL Attorney General candidates will do about this, if elected.

  3. - Reality Check - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    He retired from the firm a year after it bought the company.

    More accurately, although he says he retired, Rauner retains ownership in and control of the firm’s fund that owns Sterigenics.

  4. - Big Joe - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    This is terrible, no matter who owns the company. I thought that the Erin Brockovich movie would’ve created more attention to cases like these. And our current government is lifting restrictions on businesses that keep our environment safe. All in order for companies to make more money. Tragic, and I hope that the next elections can help to put a halt to this practice.

  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    Obviously, the governor of Illinois is not in a position to take a leadership role on this public health threat because he still has a piece of the action.

    Give that one a think.

    Seriously, dude, all your dough, and you can’t cut this one loose so there’s not a conflict of interest in doing your job?

    Then there’s the Rauner IEPA stonewalling on the docs. Talk about corruption? Len Small would blush at this one.

  6. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura also used to live there. Lots of high profile people in the elevated risk zone including Kirk Dillard. Lots of attorneys from some of the areas most influential firms.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:36 am:

    ===Sterigenics is owned by the firm co-founded by Gov. Bruce Rauner. He retired from the firm a year after it bought the company.

    This story is not going away.===

    Like the Quincy Veterans Home, decisions that are life threatening, life changing, life ending… they won’t go away. They shouldn’t. Accountability.

    Victims need to be heard.

  8. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:38 am:

    As a former area resident, my parents still live in the area. My father is having some health issues for the first time ever. He has always been very healthy and active. Could just be the impact of advanced age, but who knows. This is crazy and the governor’s continued neglect of a serious health issue is insane.

    In my opinion his behavior here is corrupt, dragging his feet with a personal financial stake in the company blows away anything he is accusing Pritzker or MJM of. The man has no character. Failing to act is hurting people again.

  9. - don the legend - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    Great comment Word.

    This is further proof that Bruce and Diana are two people without a country (constituency). The Thomes and their friends and neighbors have shown that wealth and success do not separate one from compassion and decency.

  10. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    Rauner, Trump and Republicans say with a straight face that we have to strip regulations so job creators get unburdened and make the rest of us prosper. They do a good job of not busting out laughing that lots of people believe this.

    For many others and our environment, it’s not funny.

  11. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Bruce Rauner’s company is killing rich white people?
    That takes chutzpah.

  12. - Crispy - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    Is there even a long shot chance that BVR himself could eventually face some personal, criminal liability here, perhaps if it was shown that he’d engineered the IEPA stonewalling? One can dream. …

  13. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    Fix this for the community. Now. Rauner, do something.

  14. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    One always wonders what motivates a super rich guy to run for an office, and then reads a story like this and then wonders if the motivation mystery has been solved.

  15. - JT11505 - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    The reason the governor hasn’t acted on this is that he hasn’t yet.figured out a way to blame it on Madigan.

  16. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:45 am:

    So, what’s next? A class-action lawsuit? Would affected people have to prove causation, or is the implication enough? And, if the company was operating within their EPA permit, isn’t the EPA culpable?
    To be continued….

  17. - El Conquistador - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    Economy versus the environment… near term greed seems to always prevail over science, knowledge and informed prevention.

    Governor Rauner’s advise: take shallow breaths wile in the SW suburbs.

  18. - Moe Berg - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    While the news side of the Tribune reported it, the editorial side didn’t even bother to note the Rauner connection or his ability to take action.

    Pritzker was so right to skip the farce of an ed board session. If only the editorial staff was as good as the reporting staff.

  19. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    The Guv made a big show of staying at the Quincy veterans home, why not do the same here? Set up a campaign office across the street from plant. Hold rallies there and invite supporters. Go rollerblading around the plant all weekend long, taking deep breaths of all that clean healthy air.

  20. - DuPage - Thursday, Sep 27, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    This is disturbing. A couple things I heard,”we met all EPA regulations”…(regulations that were written several decades ago before it was discovered to be carcinogenic).

    Second, the company knew the findings that the chemical was found to be carcinogenetic long before the people in the area found out. The company could have put in a “scrubber” to reduce or eliminate the dangerous emissions long ago, but they chose not to.
    The high school my wife attended was named in a news report as being near this company.

  21. - Anon221 - Friday, Sep 28, 18 @ 3:47 am:

    “Sterigenics International said today that it has changed the name of its parent company to Sotera Health, with Nelson Labs, Nordion and Sterigenics as Sotera’s three operating companies.

    The new name drew its inspiration from the name of the Greek goddess of safety, Soteria, and is meant to reflect the company’s commitment to global health.”

    Wonder how much board time they devoted to the name change vs the situation in Willowbrook.

  22. - Anon221 - Friday, Sep 28, 18 @ 4:00 am:

    Rauner would call this vertical integration…

    Subsidiary Nordion positions Sterigenics as the world’s largest provider of Cobalt-60 used in the gamma sterilization process as well as medical isotopes used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and cancers. Sterigenics International LLC serves more than 2,500 customers around the world.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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