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IEPA issues “seal order” on Sterigenics plant

Friday, Feb 15, 2019

* IEPA…

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Acting Director John J. Kim has issued a Seal Order to the Sterigenics U.S., LLC, facility located at 7775 South Quincy Street, in Willowbrook, DuPage County, 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.

The Seal Order restricts access to the ethylene oxide storage vessels so as to preclude introduction of ethylene oxide into a sterilization chamber. Only persons authorized, in writing, by the Director of the Illinois EPA may access the sealed vessels to conduct activities within the scope of their specified authorization.

Following ambient air sampling by U.S. EPA in the spring of 2018, one of the conclusions of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) noted “if measured and modeled data represent typical ethylene oxide ambient concentrations in ambient air, an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility. These elevated cancer risks present a public health hazard to these populations.”

The ATSDR used the highest residential area and commercial air sampling results (2.1 micrograms per meter3 and 9.1 micrograms per meter3, respectively) to reach its conclusion. Since that time, ambient air sampling conducted by U.S. EPA and the Village of Willowbrook has consistently found outdoor ambient levels of ethylene oxide in commercial and residential areas as high or higher than the levels used by the ATSDR.

The Illinois EPA and Illinois Attorney General’s Office have been in numerous discussions with Sterigenics to discuss how to further reduce ethylene oxide emissions. Recent elevated sampling results, along with Sterigenics’ refusal to voluntarily suspend operations, have resulted in the issuance of the Seal Order.

The Seal Order will remain in effect until it is rescinded by Acting Director Kim.

* NBC 5

The controversial Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook “will be shut down” Friday evening following new test results showing emissions of “the highest levels of [ethylene oxide] recorded in the area,” the mayor of the suburban Chicago town said.

“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.

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin…

Today’s Seal Order to the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook is welcome news. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who has worked together over the past year to finally bring safety and peace of mind back to our community. Sterigenics has failed our residents, and today’s action should put any other entity that threatens the health and safety of residents in Illinois on notice.

…Adding… Congressman Dan Lipinski…

After months of hard work calling on US and Illinois EPA to hold Sterigenics accountable and protect public health in the surrounding communities, the Illinois EPA has stepped in to stop the use of Ethylene Oxide at Sterigenics, effectively shutting it down. Five months ago I called on the EPA to shut Sterigenics down unless it could show it was not a public health threat. US EPA finally began conducting air tests in Willowbrook in November and the results have shown dangerously high levels of EtO, especially next to Sterigenics’ facilities. Based on these clear results, last week I led a bipartisan group of state and local officials, along with local residents, to the US EPA Region 5 headquarters to once again call for Stergenics to be shut down. I thank the Chicago Tribune for shining light on this issue including its editorial today calling on the EPA to heed my call to act. While the US EPA has continued to fail to act, I thank the Illinois EPA, Attorney General Raoul, and Governor Pritzker for acting today to protect the public. There is still work to be done to figure out long-term solutions, but Sterigenics needed to be shut down. The health, safety, and overall quality of life of the large population of people that live, work, and go to school near Sterigenics must always come first.

* More…



* Sen. John Curran…

On behalf of our community, I want to thank the Illinois EPA, Governor Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Rauol and DuPage County State Bob Berlin for the issuance of a Seal Order from the IEPA, which has shut the Sterigenics facility down tonight. And I want to thank the residents for their tireless efforts throughout this entire process.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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