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Four new lawsuits filed over ethylene oxide emissions in northern Illinois

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019

* These facilities don’t get nearly the same coverage as Sterigenics…

* More

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of named plaintiffs Chandra Sefton; Dawn Rex and her three-year-old son; Kathleen Koch; and Patty Bennett. All of the plaintiffs lived within a 3.5 mile radius of the Vantage and Medline plants, and all of them have been diagnosed with forms of cancer, including leukemia and breast cancer, according to the complaints.

The complaints lay the blame for the cancer on alleged emissions of ethylene oxide from the Medline and Vantage plants.

The use of ethylene oxide (EtO) is widespread in industry. Sterilization plants, like that operated by Medline, use EtO gas to sterilize large quantities of medical devices, such as surgical implants, stents, catheters and surgical kits and other health care tools.

The chemical is also regarded in industry as a key “building block” ingredient, used to make a wide variety of other products used extensively on a daily basis in the U.S. and around the world. These include antifreeze; brake fluid; carpeting; upholstery; recyclable plastic packaging; and products made from fiberglass, including bathtubs and bowling balls, among other uses. Derivatives of EtO are also used to make shampoo, cosmetics, ointments and pharmaceuticals.

* Meanwhile…


* Related…

* Air testing for ethylene oxide in Waukegan, Gurnee shows highest results in residential area near Medline

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    If I’m Leader Durkin, I’d be a bit worried if someone like Mrs. Thome decides she could be a more effective voice in the General Assembly than the Minority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives.

    Petitions go out here… shortly.

    To the Governor’s office;

    I’d mend fences on the personal level here, with Mrs. Thome, and then work to get a reasonable response to her, and let Leader Durkin know, again, any bill he wants signed, the governor will sign, even call a special session to get it passed.

  2. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 4:10 pm:

    All these stories just make me think there’s a lot of chemicals in our environment everyday that should be regulated by the government but aren’t.

    I feel like the political polarization around the issue of climate change is letting a lot of polluters slip through the cracks without our government doing anything or looking the other way, even as everyday clean water and clean air environmental regulation has broad bipartisan support.

  3. - Curious - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 4:27 pm:

    Just curious but why isn’t anyone suing the IL EPA and Federal EPA for having such high emission limits?

  4. - HGOP Firedrill - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    Oswego, you are so right on. It is strange that Durkin has not filed a bill. Maybe he can take Thome’s communications staffer away. Sigh…

  5. - Unsurprised - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    Mrs. Thome is absolutely right. Mitchell and the Governor have been playing with these poor people this whole time (don’t forget, Mitchell hired their former lobbyist, his friend, too). Shame on both of them. It’s disgusting. The Gov’s people should’ve put forward the proper language in an amendatory veto when they knew it wasn’t going to work; instead, they chose to play cute politics with people’s lives.

  6. - Been There - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 4:50 pm:

    ===And @cljmitchell —SHAME on you for using the Stop Sterigenics people as props for election and then sitting by and ignoring the cries for help. The people elected you.===
    Well not really. Not anymore at least. And while I understand her frustration and the fact that she has a bigger voice than the ordinary resident what good would having Durkin filing another bill do right now? Just so we could all go to the GA web site and look at it?

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 5:05 pm:

    I missed it. Why is she upset with Christian?

  8. - From the Corn Crib - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 6:04 pm:

    Curious - my thought exactly. The IL EPA approved the permit. Sterigenics was operating within the law, per the permit. Probably every facility doing this business in Illinois have permits with the same emission allowance as Sterigenic’s. The responsibility fell to the IL EPA to protect the public from the industry and they whiffed it.

  9. - Hamlet's Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 8:52 pm:

    The ultimate question is whether IL bans EtO state wide, not just in wealthy Willowbrook but everywhere.

    Thus far it appears Jim Durkin has declined to offer his opinion on that.

    It appears John Curran has however there may be loopholes in that bill,

  10. - Looking down the Road - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 10:26 pm:

    Simply ban the production, transport, storage or use of ethylene oxide in the state. Problem solved.

  11. - Hamlet's Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 10:43 pm:


    Yes, that works. Got 60/30?

    Would Jim Durkin be a “Yes” vote?

  12. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Wednesday, Aug 28, 19 @ 11:28 pm:

    ==Simply ban the production, transport, storage or use of ethylene oxide in the state. Problem solved.==

    That particular portion of the problem would be solved, but would create another - where would IL then get its supply of surgical hardware that cannot be sterilized by other means?

  13. - benniefly2 - Thursday, Aug 29, 19 @ 8:35 am:

    You don’t have to ban the use of the ethylene oxide. You could just give the plants that use it the old sex offender treatment. They have to publically register. They can’t be located within 1.5 miles of a school or a park or a church, etc. That would at least pull them out of population centers and equipment could still be sterilized and other products could theoretically be made.

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