Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED - Pritzker admin say it may not apply to Sterigenics *** Sen. Curran files bill to ban ethylene oxide, wants special session
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*** UPDATED - Pritzker admin say it may not apply to Sterigenics *** Sen. Curran files bill to ban ethylene oxide, wants special session

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

As Willowbrook and surrounding communities continue their fight in court to keep Sterigenics closed, State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove) continues to work on legislative solutions to keep dangerous ethylene oxide emissions out of the communities.

“Sterigenics should not be allowed to reopen,” said Sen. Curran. “This facility has been leaking dangerous levels of ethylene oxide into the area for decades, and there has been zero accounting for the damage that they have already done.”

Curran has continued to file and advance legislation to protect the community since news of the issues first broke. He was recently able to pass legislation into law, SB1852, which created the strongest regulations in the nation on the deadly gas. Senator Curran believes the new law, along with existing laws, is more than enough to allow the Illinois EPA to deny Sterigenics any permit to use ethylene oxide in WIllowbrook.

However, the Illinois EPA and Attorney General’s office recently entered into an agreement that could possibly allow the Sterigenics facility to reopen, an agreement that also does not hold the company responsible for years of dangerous emissions. Curran is filing additional legislation to make sure the facility stays closed.

“The only way to guarantee the residents of Willowbrook and the surrounding communities clean air that is free of ethylene oxide today, tomorrow and for generations to come, is to completely eliminate the source of the contamination,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. “I applaud Senator Curran for his continued efforts on behalf of the affected residents not only in his district but on behalf of all Illinoisans who have a right to breathe clean air.”

Senate Bill 2264 completely bans the use of ethylene oxide by CAAPP permit holders for most operations by January of 2021, and for all CAAPP permit holders by January of 2022. The dates are designed to help ensure a safe transition for the supply of critical medical devices. It also creates a strong financial disincentive for Sterigenics to spend millions of dollars in upgrades to attempt to meet the extremely stringent requirements of SB1852 for a very limited term of operation before the complete ban takes effect.

“I am grateful that Governor Pritzker has offered to call a special session to deal with this issue and that he has clearly stated that he supports a ban on the use of ethylene oxide,” said Sen. Curran. “The Governor has proven that he is able to use his position to push through major legislation and I look forward to working with him to advance this bill.”

Senator Curran also continues to support the legal efforts of Willowbrook and the surrounding communities to stop the existing seal order on Sterigenics from being lifted.

I’ve been saying for a while that DuPage County State’s Attorney Berlin is a big key to solving this. He and AG Raoul worked out the agreed order which allowed Sterigenics to reopen and now he’s supporting legislation to outright ban ethylene oxide.

I asked the governor’s office, the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats for a response.

…Adding… John Patterson with the Senate Democrats…

Thanks for letting me know about this, Rich.

We look forward to reviewing the legislation.

Translated: Curran didn’t reach out to the super-majority party before filing his bill.

* House GOP…

Rich - We, too, look forward to reviewing

*** UPDATE *** Governor’s office…

We are reviewing this legislation, but a preliminary analysis indicates it would not apply to Sterigenics, which will not require a CAAPP permit in the future. We remain open to working with members of the General Assembly on this issue.

…Adding… Press release…

Ethylene Oxide

Today, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois issued the following statement after legislation was introduced in the State Senate to ban the use of ethylene oxide:

“We strongly oppose this effort to ban this critical chemical building block. Ethylene Oxide helps make many products Illinois families use every day, including certain plastics, adhesives, safety glass, textiles and personal care products. Critically, ethylene oxide supports our healthcare industry through the sterilization of medical supplies that are relied on by families across our state and region.

“Over 1,500 Illinois jobs would be directly impacted by a ban of ethylene oxide while countless other Illinois jobs dependent on products made with ethylene oxide would be affected.”

“Illinois already has the most stringent standards for ethylene oxide in the nation. Banning this important chemical would harm the healthcare industry our state relies on and unnecessarily burden businesses and consumers across our state.”


  1. - Former Downstater - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    I’m sure all legislators in favor of closing down Sterigenics will fight with equal fervor to shut down polluters in lower income areas around the state.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    Curran is playing chicken here.

    We’ll see who blinks and won’t get the bill called during a special session, if that is even balked at all (Can’t take it back when ya say you’ll call it)

  3. - MarginofEra - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    A high stakes game of chicken for those in the affected communities, beyond DuPage too.

    This seems like a litmus test for the Administration. Do they side with medical groups who wants to outsource sterilization to reduce liability and costs, or with the people who want air not laced with a carcinogen? If the earlier, how are they going to squash this?

  4. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    ===I’m sure all legislators in favor of closing down Sterigenics will fight with equal fervor to shut down polluters in lower income areas around the state.===

    That’s really the key. The Republican Party has been anti-regulation for years. They have been actively gutting environmental regulation and enforcement around the country. Where is the Trump USEPA on this?

    If the Illinois Republicans have turned a corner on this, great. But, so far, it looks like a one-off to look good for a few unhappy voters. I’m not even sure they want it to pass, and, if it doesn’t, they can blame the Dems.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 12:35 pm:

    Will Durkin be the House sponsor?

    I’m just thinking aloud, thanks.

  6. - benniefly2 - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    I appreciate the sentiment, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the statehouse critters realize that ethylene oxide isn’t only used at a handful of medical sterilization facilities in the Chicago suburbs. It is my understanding that it is used in quite a number of different industrial processes as well.

  7. - DTAG - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    I hope this gets amended to ban other harmful substances from the environment, Dems could have a field day with this one.

  8. - Roman - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    Keep an eye on the senate’s Lake County Dems (Link and Bush.) They have industrial ethylene oxide emitters in their area, too. They might team up with Curran to help push this. Not sure it will result in a special session, but could definitely see action during veto session.

  9. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    This is a heck of a thing to stake your reelection on.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    ===…but a preliminary analysis indicates it would not apply to Sterigenics, which will not require a CAAPP permit in the future. We remain open to working with members of the General Assembly on this issue.===

    Maybe everyone talking to each other might help.

    Another failed bill like Durkin’s failed bill isn’t helping.

  11. - Interested - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    Real cute from the Governor’s office. How about they stop trying to be cute and just draft and file a bill that works. The media should stop giving them a break on this. It is ridiculous and shameful.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    ===How about they stop trying to be cute and just draft and file a bill that works.===

    Legislators legislate.

    Maybe both Durkin and Curran should tell Mrs. Thome And Willowbrook that as legislators, they are failures and can’t deliver.


    Call the governor and work together.

    === The media should stop giving them a break on this.===

    Governors own, they always do.

    I dunno, making the Governor, a man who spent $300K a day to be governor, have to solely answer for Durkin’s and Curran’s failures doesn’t seem to have a good ending if the governor wants to take it to both of them.

    “When Willowbrook needed ______, he failed them. Writing failed legislation…”

    You get the gist.

    I’d talk it out.

  13. - Huh - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    Did the Governor’s office give a reason for why Sterigenics won’t need a CAAPP permit in the future? They were previously required to have one and this is the first time I’ve heard that isn’t required for their future operations. Is it something to do with new rules from the feds or something?

  14. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 2:58 pm:

    Really wish the doppelganger at 2:51 would use a different handle.

  15. - Newish - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Sorry Huh?, I frequently visit this site but rarely ever comment. I know that Rich recently asked people to not use anonymous anymore and I’m not very creative so I tried to use a basic handle. I didn’t realize that you already use it.

  16. - Bobby Beagle - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    CAAPP permits are required for a certain threshold of released pollutants. A company can apply to emit whatever amount of pollutants they want essentailly (by applying to operate specific equipment for X amount of hours a year)

    So, if this only applies to CAAPP permits, in theory Sterigenics would simply apply to pollute at levels below the CAAPP threshold.

    In the end this reveals how little legislators understand pollution permts, the IEPA, and how the process works.

    And totally agree with OW regarding the futility of blaming Pritzker on this. It’s as if they simply can’t accept that their R leaders would say one thing, but then refuse to take the necessary action. It must be JBs fault, right???

  17. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 5:41 pm:

    Newish - No problems. Welcome to the small time commenter club.

  18. - Dupage Bard - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 5:50 pm:

    Political games continue.
    Banning EO statewide? Where is Curran on banning fossil fuel emissions? Where is he on pesticides and fertilizer’s that could run off into waterways?
    Slippery slope

  19. - Lives nearby - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 6:14 pm:

    Don’t know if Durkin will sponsor. But if a Sterigenics reopens in his own district, he’s done. He be moving somewhere else to get elected.

  20. - Blue Dog Dem - Tuesday, Jul 30, 19 @ 8:45 pm:

    The current governor was quick to try and gain favor with environmentalists with a hokey Paris climate Accord, but when push came to shove he threw Illinois residents under the bus faster than you can say ‘ deep down I’m notch much different than Rauner’.

  21. - Worried - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 10:30 am:

    I am just worried that there will be a shortage of medical equipment.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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