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Sterigenics meeting today

Thursday, Feb 7, 2019

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the following joint statement about ongoing efforts to address the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook, Illinois.

“Recent media reports of alleged improper handling of dangerous chemicals at the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook and reports of elevated EtO levels within the Willowbrook community are deeply disturbing, and we urge the U.S. EPA to take swift and effective action to protect the health and safety of families living near the facility. The Illinois EPA will meet with the U.S. EPA and Sterigenics today. After this meeting, we will evaluate any outcomes and exercise all available legal authority to protect the community from this exposure.”

An opinion I’m hearing more and more is that the state ought to just shut the place down and let the courts sort it out.

Your own thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

37 Comments »
  1. - Soccermom - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    Jim Durkin needs to get out in front of this one.


  2. - SAP - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:48 am:

    I think a shut down would be politically wise. Governor Pritzker does not need this to become his Quincy Veterans’ Home


  3. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:49 am:

    There also are high EtO levels in the Streeterville neighborhood in Chicago, and a high cancer cluster, due to the hospitals sterilizing their equipment. Is it impossible to use this gas without releasing in the vicinity?


  4. - broggle - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    please shut this cancer factory down


  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    Soccermom, this is from Durkin yesterday:

    –“The latest allegations against Sterigenics are beyond troubling and once again call into question their commitment to the safety of our communities and their employees. I am not convinced, nor are many of the families that I represent, that Sterigenics is willing to make the changes necessary to ensure our health and safety. So I am calling on Sterigenics to immediately shut their doors and leave our community.”–


  6. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    Send every building inspector there now. You can always find some code violation and shut it down
    Shut it down now as a health hazard and sort it out in court later. Where is DuPage in this? Where is Cronin?


  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    ===…the state ought to just shut the place down and let the courts sort it out.===

    This is the best way, the quickest way too, given how this has continued.

    The courts then can set what they feel is a just resolution, and if more on the legislative side needs doing… we’ll know


  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:54 am:

    –An opinion I’m hearing more and more is that the state ought to just shut the place down and let the courts sort it out.

    Your own thoughts?–

    Works for me. There appears to be community and bipartisan legislative support for that action.

    I’m quite certain that we can’t rely on the federal EPA to act with all deliberate speed to protect the folks.

    See you in court, the discovery process should be interesting.


  9. - Perrid - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    I can get behind that. Stopping what is almost certainly a public safety hazard is worth a lot of legal fees, especially if the state ends up winning the case.


  10. - Bobby Beagle - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    The buck has to stop somewhere, may as well be in the state where it will be a political win and fulfillment of a campaign promise.

    This whole incident will be made into a book, movie, or large narrative radio/podcast piece without a doubt. After the latest results from USEPA there is really no excuse to continue to having meetings, make demands, tweet promises. Time to act.


  11. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    I’m good with shutting it down. My only concern is whether medical facilities would be able to get properly sterilized equipment in a timely manner. The failure to do so would pose more of an immediate health risk.


  12. - Jibba - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    Agreed, unless EPA is collecting the last of the data that would be the smoking gun, and acting fast.


  13. - brickle - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    Drive by the test devices located on Willowbrook Police property every day. I’ve worked down the street from this place for years. It’s unacceptable that they are still allowed to operate.


  14. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    This company knowingly emits a cancer-causing chemical. Shut it down.


  15. - DuPage - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    If they have to use and release that dangerous chemical, they should be forced to re-locate to a remote location far away from any human population. In addition, exhaust fumes should be neutralized before being released as much as technically possible.


  16. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    Time to close it up.


  17. - Not Again - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    Its beyond a campaign prop at this point, and beyond an ETO debate. The real issue is that this company is a lousy and careless operator and needs to be shut down.


  18. - Anon221 - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Federal Shutdown is looming again. Get your court order for a Sterigenics shutdown now in case that happens. Otherwise, USEPA will be even more impotent.


  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    This is the kind of no brainer only scared political lawyers would dream of slowing down.

    Shut them down, use every resource available to investigate, and park JB out front while you do it.

    What’s the point of being Governor if you’re going to sit around worrying about being sued?


  20. - Soccermom - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    Word, I saw that. I don’t think his constituents will be satisfied with a request to Sterigenics to voluntarily shut down.


  21. - James Knell - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    Thank goodness I don’t live anywhere near that place. How many millions of Medicare dollar will we spend treating people down the road?


  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 11:44 am:

    This state needs an EPA that actually protects the environment. Shut it down ASAP.


  23. - Lars - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    Shut them down. They’ve been poisoning the community for decades. They are no longer welcome in Willowbrook and will only tarnish their own reputation the longer they stay.


  24. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    =I don’t think his constituents will be satisfied with a request to Sterigenics to voluntarily shut down.=

    They are not. What shocks me is that the resources of a lot of people in that area are significant and no one has gone to court to get it shut down yet.


  25. - Taxrate62 - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    The AG’s Office prosecutes claims on behalf of the State EPA. Why would the AG request the EPA to act? The AG could seek immediate injunctive relief without any consent from the EPA or any other state agency.


  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    There are multiple and common ways to sterilize medical tools and equipment, This poison gas method is not really any better than autoclaves, steam, or even charged plasma beams. EtO is picked because it’s *cheap*; not because it’s better, cleaner, or safer.

    Hospitals will not suffer if we close Sterigenics. Patient care won’t suffer. But neighborhoods are suffering, and that will continue, if the EtO emissions are allowed to continue.

    It’s all about the Benjamins, every time.


  27. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    One potential pathway to the shutdown of the Sterigenics facility would be to get U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division involved, with the initial focus on the ex-worker allegations that hazardous materials were dumped into the local sewer system. And to be fair, the Governor needs to find out if there are other industrial facilities in the state releasing EtO into the atmosphere to make sure they are not posing a health threat to local residents.


  28. - Enviro - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    This needs to shut down. EPA should be held accountable. They protect corporations not the public. How far do these toxins drift and how long do they linger in the air? There are alternatives in this industry and many others, regulate them for God’s sake.


  29. - Barrington - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Shutting down this facility is the only option, for all the reasons: ethical, health, and political. This is a no brainer. There will be lawsuits no matter if the facility is shut down or not shut down.


  30. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    -Anonymous @ 12:38-

    Thanks. Appreciate that info.


  31. - MarginofEra - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    - DuPage -
    It’s not just stack emissions, it’s actually the fugitive emissions that they cannot apparently control. It’s not a closed loop system, the stuff they take out of the chambers off-gasses.


  32. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 3:51 pm:

    Make sure their clients can continue to operate before shutting them down.

    Can the state take control on an emergency basis? Not sure the health risk is immediate enough to bypass normal procedures.


  33. - Barrington - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 5:45 pm:

    Check out the CDC for ethylene oxide information:
    https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/sterilization/ethylene-oxide.html

    Note that “The main disadvantages associated with ETO are the lengthy cycle time, the cost, and its potential hazards to patients and staff; the main advantage is that it can sterilize heat- or moisture-sensitive medical equipment without deleterious effects on the material used in the medical devices.”


  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 6:35 pm:

    EtO is touted as the only way to sterilize tools and materials that are heat-sensitive, but that’s not completely true. You can sterilize such products ( and way faster) using hydrogen peroxide, or even gamma radiation from an x-ray machine… It can even be done with plain isopropyl alcohol, if it’s the very pure and strong version.

    This is a method that’s been promoted because it’s a money-maker, not because it’s intrinsically better. And there are acceptable alternatives without the public health risks. We stopped making lead paint, and guess what; people still paint their homes every day. Only now it doesn’t cause brain damage in their kids.

    At some point we have to draw a line against certain practices, no matter how lucrative they may be for a small niche of business.


  35. - John - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 9:37 pm:

    It is unfortunate that the EPA has not managed to get the science right. There is no health crisis from these low levels. If there was, there would be an epidemic of these cancers in the area - but there isn’t.


  36. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Feb 8, 19 @ 6:29 am:

    ==It is unfortunate that the EPA has not managed to get the science right. There is no health crisis from these low levels. If there was, there would be an epidemic of these cancers in the area - but there isn’t.==

    John, the cancer cluster in Willowbrook is what alerted the EPA to investigate and do the tests.


  37. - JS Mill - Friday, Feb 8, 19 @ 8:33 am:

    =It is unfortunate that the EPA has not managed to get the science right. There is no health crisis from these low levels. If there was, there would be an epidemic of these cancers in the area - but there isn’t.=

    Tell that to the downwind families suffering from an unusually high rates of cancer. I am sure some would accept your offer on their house.


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