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Should the IEPA hold another Sterigenics hearing?

Monday, Aug 12, 2019

* I was tagged in this tweet about a recent IEPA hearing on Sterigenics during my break, but I watched the video anyway and was appalled…

My tweeted response: “Dean Studer is paid by the state to run public hearings for the IEPA. Go to about the :50 mark to see what Illinois is paying for. Not acceptable. The folks living, working and going to school near the Sterigenics plant deserve much better treatment than this.”

* I went to the governor’s press conference later that day and here’s part of what he said about the video

Our hearings should be orderly. We should have people accepting comments from the public in an appropriate way. I understand that that worker in particular has been suspended from engaging in those kinds of hearings and there’s disciplinary action that’s being considered by the EPA.

* From IEPA Director John Kim…

This behavior was not appropriate and does not reflect our commitment to listening to and respecting the communities we serve. This employee will no longer be conducting these types of hearings and appropriate disciplinary action is being considered.

* But I also asked Gov. Pritzker if the IEPA should hold another hearing in Willowbrook “to give people a legitimate chance this time to express their grievances.” Pritzker’s response

I didn’t listen to the whole hearing, to be honest. I don’t know whether that incident that you’re referring to which I saw a clip of is something that occurred throughout the hearing or whether people got an opportunity to stand up and say what they wanted to. So, obviously people need to be heard and I believe strongly that action needs to be taken.

The Stop Sterigenics group then called yet again for an immediate special session to address the issue.


* Related…

* Illinois Cities Consider Eminent Domain to Stop Sterigenics: Illinois communities are contemplating using eminent domain to block the reopening of a Sterigenics U.S. LLC medical-device sterilization facility that emits harmful gases. The mayors of Burr Ridge, Darien, Hinsdale, and Willowbrook are scheduled to meet late Aug. 9 to develop strategies to keep closed the Sterigenics facility, which emits ethylene oxide. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Sterigenics facility shut down in February over concerns about its emissions.

* Illinois lawmaker accuses state EPA of working with Sterigenics to reopen, reveals past brain tumor

* Can a company accused of ‘killing’ people sue for defamation? Bar is high, even then, attorneys say

* Waukegan blocks taller stack at Medline while other ethylene oxide controls move forward

* The Fight to Keep Sterigenics Closed in Willowbrook

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:50 pm:

    Maybe the Sterigenics crowd could vote in a Senator and Representative who knew what their own bill did and didn’t do?

  2. - Yikes - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    Dealing with the public, especially an issue that is both emotionally-charged and highly technical can be extremely frustrating. That said, EPA needed to do better.

  3. - Roland - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    What about Pritzker’s good friends over at Medline???

  4. - Rainbow Warrior - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    The IEPA handled the meeting terribly. These folks are now extremely motivated one issue voters with a very legitimate grievance against the Pritzker Administration. I think the fear of cancer is the one thing that can Trump both racial divisiveness and gobs and gobs of money.

  5. - Norseman - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    === The IEPA handled the meeting terribly. ===

    Near unanimous agreement (there’s always some contrarian).

    === … very legitimate grievance against the Pritzker Administration. ===

    I’d say they have a legitimate grievance against their legislators for passing a bill that failed to give them the solution they wanted. JB threw out the idea of a special session. Where’s Durkin?

  6. - Anon221 - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    Studer didn’t appear to take a histrionic hardline at this hearing…

    “Speakers ignored instructions to restrict their comments to the water quality certification, and the audience applauded enthusiastically at various statements. Hearing Officer Studer occasionally interrupted to restate the hearing rules, but otherwise allowed the comments to continue.”

    Hearings like this can be very stressful for all involved, but a hearing officer should refrain from such behavior as Studer exhibited at the Sterigenics hearing. And, the 2 minutes should not have come out of her speaking allotment. If they needed to find something in the permit, they should have been well prepared to do so, and not use it as a “club” to silence a concerned citizen.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:10 pm:


  8. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    Has any other member of the IL House or IL Senate declared support for the new Curran bill?

  9. - Lincoln Lad - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    Public speakers/commenters may lose their cool…but not the agency representative. This is unacceptable and significant discipline is warranted. I wouldn’t have Mr. Studer representing me. Not for a minute.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    Ok, now, to this…

    ===I think the fear of cancer is the one thing that can Trump both racial divisiveness and gobs and gobs of money.===

    Pritzker lost the district.

    It’s Durkin who should worry.

    Durkin’s failed bill got us to this very specific point.

    If I’m a resident, I’d wonder aloud how inept Leader Durkin actually is.


    When you want the political driving the policy and governing of solutions, you get situations where terrible governing like these hearings and decisions, and the bill Leader Durkin *still* stands by, happens. All sides need to find a solution.

    No more kabuki theatre.

    Governors own… but Durkin might feel the political fallout.

    Now that said… can all sides find a way to get this to a place where governing is seen as responsive?

  11. - Anon221 - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    Went to the Tweets, and if the IEPA permit was incomplete as stated on the feed, then the hearing that was should be null and void.

  12. - Charlie Brown - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    If a judge were caught on tape behaving that way toward a defendant, reasonable people would question whether the judge was impartial and unbiased.

    It’s a Catch-22 for the agency:

    1) hold no new hearing, approve permit, get sued by residents;

    2) Hold new hearing , don’t approve permit, get sued by Sterigenics;

    3) new Hearing, approve, still sued by residents.

    I vote for 4) No hearing, deny permit, get sued by Sterigenics.

  13. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    My money is on the scapegoated hearing officer doing exactly as he was told by his superiors and this behavior being condoned before it became an embarrassment.

  14. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    Having been on both sides of hearings that get out of control, it would have been better if the entire hearing had been used and not just one small moment in time. While the hearing officer did not handle the moment well, the woman was trying to take over the meeting and earn herself additional time. I get that the woman probably doesn’t give testimony often, but she really doesn’t get to just do whatever she wants either.

    I thought the chair asked a legitimate question of whether she wanted the exhibit she was asking about in writing or immediately (which would have deducted from her time allotment).

    Yes, this is a charged environment, but both sides need to follow the rules and not get overreactive when rules are breached. All the hearing officer would have had to say is, “Madame, the rules don’t allow for that…did you have any further questions for me or the panel?”

  15. - Roland - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    I would love to know if Pritzker has ever discussed medline or the medline family with Director Kim.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===I would love to know if Pritzker has ever discussed medline or the medline family with Director Kim===

    - Roland -

    You’re asking the wrong question;

    Why would Leader Durkin run such a failing bill?

  17. - Klaus VonBulow - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    Call me Mr. Luminous.
    There seems to be a pattern incompetence within the executive agencies. Several noted today on this blog.

    Where does the buck stop? Governing is beyond press releases and passing legislation. The laws passed are all for naught.

  18. - JoanP - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    The woman was grandstanding and her behavior was improper.

    However, Studer, as chair, had a responsibility to behave like an adult, and not to respond in kind. There are ways to handle people like her, and his is not one of them.

  19. - Perrid - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    JoanP, all he had to do was not yell. If he had calmly repeated “Ma’am”, even talking over her, the entire time she was addressing the crowd it would have been fine. That’s literally all he had to do, not raise his voice.

  20. - The Jungle - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 3:37 pm:

    Sounds all too familiar. EPA likes to say women are too emotional and sensitive when it comes to clean air, water, quality of life, and safety for families and children. Sad so very sad. No politicians ever show up at public meetings concerning the toxic industries that are killing us in Illinois; Sterigenics, CAFOs, Coal Tar, etc

  21. - Going nuclear - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 4:05 pm:

    I think the citizens should have been given more time to have their questions answered. A two-minute limit seems insufficient. Why not 5 or 10 minutes? Obviously, you want to limit redundant questions.

    It was also unclear from the video whether the agency staff had the information the citizen was seeking. There appeared to be confusion. I think IEPA should have had a high-level official present at the meeting like the Director or Bureau Chief to intervene and help facilitate the process.

  22. - S rao - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    In the clip the moderator offers more time for questions, if the speaker is willing to wait for answers. Missing is the announcement later in the meeting that NO questions will be answered until after the permit decision is made. The IEPA should provide answers to the residents questions.

  23. - Lives nearby - Wednesday, Aug 14, 19 @ 5:34 am:

    Two minutes is a joke to discuss any complicated issue. The only thing that’s more of a joke is the application and the draft permit. Durkin called that out. Agree with above that best option is deny and get sued by Sterigenics. Although they will eventually have to figure out the more attention they bring the more they will be exposed. Their testing companies raise lots of questions. Sterigenics needs to consider how badly they want more exposure. Their practices are concerning. Also if they open Durkin is done and IL EPA and hopefully those four reps should be sued. They have duty. Residents should not have to point out flaws.

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