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After Sterigenics shutdown, EPA testing shows “a pretty rapid drop” in cancer-causing chemical emissions

Friday, Mar 22, 2019

* ABC 7

New testing by the U.S EPA shows there’s been a rapid drop in a cancer-causing chemical days after the closure of the Sterigenics plant in DuPage County.

The medical supply sterilization company, which has been in Willowbrook since 1984, was forced to shut down last month after testing showed dangerous levels of ethylene oxide in the air in a radius around the Sterigenics plant. […]

Since then, the most recent tests show ethylene oxide levels were at least 50 to 90 percent lower after the shutdown.

Thursday, Sterigenics released a statement claiming the results also prove there are other sources emitting ethylene oxide besides its facility. […]

However, Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (IL-3) office also issued a release Thursday stating “Sterigenics is clearly the culprit,” and persists the plant remain shut down.

* Tribune

Average levels of ethylene oxide after the shutdown were at least 50 percent lower at each of the 10 monitors, the documents show, and more than 90 percent lower at the testing locations closest to Sterigenics.

“We’re seeing a pretty rapid drop since the seal order,” Lewis Weinstock, an EPA official overseeing the agency’s testing, told residents Thursday during an online seminar, referring to the legal term for the action taken by the Pritzker administration.

Federal officials plan to keep collecting samples through the end of March, in part because unexplained concentrations of ethylene oxide continue to be detected at some locations even though Sterigenics isn’t releasing it into the air. Possible sources include other upwind facilities or lingering emissions from Sterigenics, Mike Koerber, associate director for policy at the EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, said during the seminar.

Based on information the agency already has collected, Koerber said, EPA scientists are conducting a more detailed evaluation of cancer risks in Willowbrook and surrounding suburbs — a document expected to be released to the public before a community forum in late May.

The full Sterigenics statement is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

6 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    Homeowners in the area will get wiped out if that place ever opens again. They’ll lose every penny of equity and more, if they can even sell.


  2. - Soo... - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    “Thursday, Sterigenics released a statement claiming the results also prove there are other sources emitting ethylene oxide besides its facility.”

    Soo…. The EPA’s study wasn’t flawed and the people of Willowbrook weren’t misinformed that your facility was actually spewing cancer-causing chemicals. Cool got it, thanks


  3. - brickle - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    ==Homeowners in the area will get wiped out if that place ever opens again. They’ll lose every penny of equity and more, if they can even sell.==

    This is very near some $$$$$ homes in Burr Ridge, too.

    I’m glad I’ve worked down the street from this place for 10+ years. Gonna love suing the *checks notes* bankrupt company in 10 years for medical treatments.


  4. - GA Watcher - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    The local high school district in the Willowbrook area (D 86 — Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South) has a huge bond issue on the ballot in two weeks. Given the uncertainty regarding how the Sterigenics situation will impact home values for the more than 25,000 residents who live in the affected area, voters in District 86 ought to think twice about approving it. If the 25,000 affected homeowners are wiped out as Wordslinger suggests is a possibility if Sterigenics re-opens, the residents in the rest of the district will have to pick up the slack. I, for one, would want to know how much more my property taxes would increase if this happens.


  5. - Suburban Mom - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    Been seeing a lot of job listings for Sterigenics lately, at various suburban locations; they’re hiring a BUNCH, although it’s not clear to me if that’s because people are leaving or because they’re still growing even with this plant shutting down.


  6. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    EPA should use mobile testing equipment to track down other sources. It sounds like Sterigenics is not the only bad actor. They put out so much poison that it masked the others.


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