Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x3 - Sterigenics responds - Pritzker won’t commit to immediate special session - Durkin introduces new bill *** Sterigenics consent order approved by DuPage judge
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*** UPDATED x3 - Sterigenics responds - Pritzker won’t commit to immediate special session - Durkin introduces new bill *** Sterigenics consent order approved by DuPage judge

Friday, Sep 6, 2019

* Press release…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin today released the following statement in reaction to DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Paul Fullerton’s approval of a consent order entered in People of the State of Illinois v. Sterigenics U.S., LLC.

“When our offices partnered to file a lawsuit against Sterigenics in 2018, we called upon and gave the Illinois General Assembly time to strengthen our state’s laws regulating sterilization facilities that emit ethylene oxide. With nearly unanimous support, the Legislature this spring passed the nation’s strictest requirements on ethylene oxide emissions at sterilization facilities, which were quickly signed into law by the governor. The consent order entered today mirrors and goes even further than the new law.

“The consent order gives our offices the tools to act quickly to protect the community and hold Sterigenics accountable for any future violations of Illinois’ new ethylene oxide restrictions or other state environmental laws. To be clear, nothing within the consent order guarantees that the Willowbrook facility will reopen in the immediate future – or that it will reopen at all. Under the consent order, Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility is strictly prohibited from resuming sterilization operations until it constructs new emissions control systems that have been reviewed and approved by the Illinois EPA. The Attorney General’s office, the State’s Attorney’s office and the court will be closely monitoring each step Sterigenics takes to potentially reopen.

“Our offices are duty bound to enforce state laws as written and passed by the General Assembly. The new law signed this summer – while containing landmark restrictions of ethylene oxide emissions – allows any facility in compliance with the law to operate in the state of Illinois. While Illinois has acted to significantly reduce ethylene oxide emissions, the health concerns arising from the use of ethylene oxide and other harmful chemicals is an issue of national importance, and the conversations surrounding ethylene oxide emissions should continue at the federal level.”

Background:

The now-final consent order requires Sterigenics to comply with a new law passed by the General Assembly this spring, which contains the nation’s most stringent regulations of sterilization facilities that emit ethylene oxide (EtO). Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility is comprised of two buildings, Willowbrook I and Willowbrook II. The consent order prohibits sterilization operations from taking place at Willowbrook I, Sterigenics’ primary facility, until it is in compliance with both the new law and the consent order. According to the consent order, Willowbrook I is prohibited from resuming sterilization operations unless and until the company installs new emissions capture and control systems and submits plans for testing the new systems, all of which must be reviewed and approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Sterigenics will also be required to provide the IEPA with test results that confirm the new systems capture 100 percent of emissions. Additionally, Sterigenics must obtain multiple certifications required by the new law prior to using EtO at Willowbrook I. The consent order also prevents Sterigenics from conducting sterilization operations at Willowbrook II until Sterigenics applies for and obtains a permit from the IEPA, and the consent order is amended to allow for such operations.

If Sterigenics receives a permit and is allowed to resume operations, the net effect of the requirements in the consent order and the new law will be to reduce the EtO emissions from the Willowbrook facility to no more than 85 pounds per year. This represents a drastic reduction from Sterigenics’ reported annual emissions from 2006 to 2018, which ranged from 2,840 pounds to 7,340 pounds per year.

The consent order is a court enforced agreement that resolves both the state’s lawsuit against Sterigenics, and Sterigenics’ lawsuit challenging the IEPA’s seal order, which temporarily stopped Sterigenics from using EtO. The consent order is a stronger legal tool than the IEPA seal order because it strips Sterigenics of any legal ability to resume the use of EtO without meeting all legal requirements under the new law and the consent order, including new emissions controls. If Sterigenics fails to comply, the Attorney General and State’s Attorney will seek court enforcement of the consent order and penalties, including the possible cessation of operations at the facility and contempt of court.

I assume I’ll be receiving other reactions soon and will post ‘em when I get ‘em.

…Adding… Sen. John Curran…

I am disappointed with today’s ruling and remain committed to the Governor’s call for a special session to advance legislation that would ensure Sterigenics never reopens.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…

n light of today’s disappointing court ruling, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) introduced new legislation that will give local municipalities the authority to ban the use of ethylene oxide in their communities.

“Sterigenics continues to prove they cannot be trusted and have no place in our region,” Leader Durkin said. “If the Illinois EPA continues moving forward in issuing permits, then we must do everything we can to empower our local municipalities in their fight to keep Sterigenics closed for good.”

House Bill 3885 authorizes any municipality in the state of Illinois to implement a local ban of the use of ethylene oxide within its boundaries. If a local municipality chooses to adopt this authority, any sterilizing companies would be prohibited from using ethylene oxide. This bill has the support of the village of Willowbrook.

“If the Illinois EPA isn’t going to enforce the Matt Haller Act, then it’s essential that the legislature be called back into session so that we can ensure Illinois residents are safe,” Chief Co-Sponsor Rep. Deanne Mazzochi said.

The governor, you will recall, has said that if Durkin introduced another bill he’d call a special session. From July 18

“I made it clear to Leader Durkin this morning that, if he requests it, I will call a special session of the legislature to allow for an immediate vote on a bill that is constitutional and will fix the perceived shortcomings of the legislation he previously sponsored.”

…Adding… Press release…

Following is a statement from Antonio Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, one of several law firms representing victims sickened by Sterigenics, the medical sterilization equipment manufacturer in Willowbrook, Illinois. A judge on Friday ruled that Sterigenics, which has been closed since February, can reopen.

“Anyone who lives near Sterigenics will shudder to learn that this dangerous company will be allowed to reopen. They have proven time and again that they are irresponsible and willing to put countless lives in jeopardy by emitting the toxic chemical ethylene oxide into the surrounding atmosphere at high levels. For decades, they knowingly blasted a deadly chemical into the air. Hundreds of thousands of have been exposed and tens of thousands have been sickened. Now, thousands of victims are being represented in these lawsuits seeking justice. Countless more will be sickened in the future–and no one knows how many have already died as a result of this noxious poison. Sterigenics cannot be trusted, and should not be allowed to reopen and put even more lives at risk.”

…Adding… Press release…

State Representative Deanne M. Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) released the following statement after DuPage County Judge Fullerton ruled in favor of allowing the Sterigenics Consent Order to proceed with modifications:

“I’m glad the court’s process stopped the ILEPA’s original plan to allow Sterigenics to reopen under the guise of secret proceedings that were not subject to transparency or judicial review. But the consent order still places a great deal of trust in the ILEPA.

“Legislators will not tolerate an ILEPA that chooses bureaucratic box-checking over doing its job to protect public safety, including following the Matt Haller Act to the letter. If the ILEPA does its job right, Sterigenics should never reopen under these circumstances. And if that necessitates more legislation and ILEPA oversight, so be it.”

…Adding… Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla…

Despite the Court’s action today of issuing the Consent Decree, our fight to ban ethylene oxide in our community is not over.

This afternoon, State Rep. Jim Durkin filed new legislation to amend the Environmental Protection Act and give home rule units of government like the Village of Willowbrook the ability to ban ethylene oxide from being used within our boundaries.

We are relying on our state legislature to do what is right to protect not only the Village of Willowbrook residents and our surrounding communities but for the entire state. That means 217 home rule units of government in Illinois can benefit from HB 3885, and prevent ethylene oxide from entering these communities.

I want to thank Rep. Durkin, HB 3885 chief co-sponsor Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, and Sen. John Curran for their endless support in our fight to ban ethylene oxide.

Willowbrook and our surrounding neighbors will work tirelessly to ensure passage of this legislation.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Emily Bittner at the governor’s office…

Statement
The Governor is pleased that Leader Durkin and his colleagues are proposing a solution to strengthen their original legislation. He looks forward to immediately reviewing the measure, and he will support it unless there are constitutional concerns. From the outset of his term, the Governor has focused on protecting these families, including the Illinois EPA’s seal order in February to shut down Sterigenics’ operations, allowing the Legislature to work to create the strongest possible safeguards for families. To move quickly, he urges Leader Durkin to begin the legislative process on this new bill, including building consensus for this approach, holding hearings and scheduling votes for the relevant committees.

Background
The consent order reached today with the company is significantly stronger than the legislation that passed the General Assembly.

Because the steps outlined in the consent order will take several months to complete, the administration anticipates that this legislation can be taken up immediately in the veto session in October and ensure that local communities have sufficient time to act.

…Adding… Daily Herald coverage

Amid outrage from some residents, a DuPage judge approved a consent order that would allow the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook to reopen if it meets strict standards controlling emissions.

“What I believe is not important. What I must do is to follow the law,” Judge Paul Fullerton said Friday, adding he would sign an agreement between Sterigenics, the Illinois attorney general and DuPage County state’s attorney. […]

“He’s signing our death sentence,” Willowbrook resident Melissa Alvarado said aloud in the courtroom, and other homeowners echoed her dismay.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sterigenics…

Sterigenics, a leading provider of mission-critical sterilization services, today commented on the DuPage County Court’s approval of the Consent Order that had previously been agreed to by the State of Illinois (represented by the Illinois Attorney General and the DuPage County State’s Attorney), the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the company. Court approval of this agreement resolves all current litigation between the State of Illinois and its representative agencies and Sterigenics, with no finding of liability or fault against either side and with no imposition of penalties.

During today’s proceedings, the Court noted that the State has acknowledged that there is no uncertainty that Sterigenics has operated in compliance with federal standards regarding its ethylene oxide (EO) emissions. Further, the State indicated in its briefing that compliance with the Consent Order and the new Illinois law regarding EO sterilization “will ensure that [EO] emissions from the [Willowbrook] Site are negligible and not a public health hazard.”

Sterigenics has always operated safely, and we are pleased that the State has acknowledged the safety of these new controls. The company will continue to work to complete the permitting process regarding the enhancements detailed in the Consent Order.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments »
  1. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    The Durkin react will be the most telling.

    Petitions are out on the street.


  2. - Perrid - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    “If the Illinois EPA isn’t going to enforce the Matt Haller Act…”

    Ma’am, it’s not the agency’s fault y’all can’t write a bill that does what you want to do the first time.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    I thought Durkin stood behind his bill?

    I kid, I kid.

    To the Durkin update,

    Yes. There ya go, so much better.

    There’s lots to like here;

    * Local control aspect, a GOP staple
    * Direct response for Willowbrook
    * Calls out the governor, or whomever, to hold the bag
    * Allows Durkin to be the leader here to correct the “problem”
    * Gets folks energized in his own district

    This is doing something to the political and try to address the failed bill.

    Oh…

    That utterly ridiculous response last time

    “I stand by my bill”

    Next time workshop your statements. It now looks like needless grandstanding instead of trying to find governing solutions to a failed fix.

    That was a comm staff error, first… then up the chain.

    This bill is really solid work.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    ===“I made it clear to Leader Durkin this morning that, if he requests it, I will call a special session of the legislature to allow for an immediate vote on a bill that is constitutional and will fix the perceived shortcomings of the legislation he previously sponsored.”===

    Governors own.

    Signatures and vetoes.

    Will the bill get thru? Durkin needs to see it through.


  5. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    = it’s not the agency’s fault y’all can’t write a bill that does what you want to do the first time. =

    The Governor, the Governor’s legislative affairs division, the agency’s deputy governor, the agency director, and the agency’s legislative liaison(s), legal affairs, and the bureau(s) responsible for implementation all get a pass on language not reflecting the intentions of the bill?

    That kind of punt ruins administrations and allows the issue at hand intensify.


  6. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    = Governors own. =

    I agree. Politics aside, why then is the Governor putting this on Durkin to determine whether or not the GA should come back?


  7. - anonomoose - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    Mr. Romanucci apparently didn’t read this part:

    “To be clear, nothing within the consent order guarantees that the Willowbrook facility will reopen in the immediate future – or that it will reopen at all. Under the consent order, Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility is strictly prohibited from resuming sterilization operations until it constructs new emissions control systems that have been reviewed and approved by the Illinois EPA. The Attorney General’s office, the State’s Attorney’s office and the court will be closely monitoring each step Sterigenics takes to potentially reopen.”


  8. - Perrid - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    Bertrum, Durkin and Mazzochi didn’t go after the agency or the governor for the bad language that everyone agreed to, they went after the agency for not “enforcing” the bill. But they ARE enforcing the bill.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    ===why then is the Governor putting this on Durkin===

    Gotta have a bill first, legislators legislate.

    If it gets thru… then…


  10. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    anonomoose is earning their fee today. Mr. Romanucci’s argument is that Sterigenics’ past should not allow it to have a path to reopen.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===That kind of punt ruins administrations and allows the issue at hand intensify.===

    Prolly why the governor said for Durkin to fix what his failed bill didn’t.

    This new bill “tries” to tie loose ends.


  12. - Sharon - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    The original bill was not and is not a failed bill.
    The governors office and the IEPA were at the negotiating table from day one.
    Time for the governor to govern.
    If his office did not like the bill, they have a legislative team that can put a bill together and talk to legislators to get it passed through the GA in a special session


  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    ===Sterigenics’ past should not allow it to have a path to reopen===

    OK, but that’s a pretty radical departure from historical business regulation.


  14. - Hamlet's Ghost - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Durkin’s bill should include counties:

    “House Bill 3885 authorizes any municipality [add or county] in the state of Illinois to implement a local ban of the use of ethylene oxide within its boundaries.”


  15. - Hamlet's Ghost - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Actually, the bill authorizes home rule units of local government to ban of EtO. I wonder why this is limited to home rule governments.


  16. - Bogey Golfer - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    Because non-home rule communities have to follow state regulations on all issues. Home Rule can adopt their own if more stringent than the states.


  17. - Juvenal - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    There is no reason he has to limit this to home rule.

    They just allowed non-home rule to ban recreational cannabis sales.

    This is about protecting EtO in non-home rule. Advocates in Williwbrook should not be okay with pushing what they argue is a “toxic at any level” pollutant off on poorer, black and brown neighborhoods.


  18. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    = OK, but that’s a pretty radical departure from historical business regulation. =

    Agreed. Does the situation warrant it?

    = Prolly why the governor said for Durkin to fix what his failed bill didn’t. =

    I would never suggest the Legislature does not have a role in this. The legislative process will likely decide how this ends. A session could have been called without someone asking for it and without a bill being filed first.

    The Legislature gets a lot of guff (some of it deserved), but they do not exclusively wear the hat on this one.

    /rant


  19. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    Very narrowly and specific to this;

    ===Because the steps outlined in the consent order will take several months to complete, the administration anticipates that this legislation can be taken up immediately in the veto session in October and ensure that local communities have sufficient time to act.===

    I can see the window of the Veto session making most sense, as it will also allow Leader Durkin his chance in his district, caucus, and the other 3 leaders the opportunity to revisit process and line up against the bad actor; Sterigenics


  20. - DuPage Bard - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    Illinois EPA followed Durkin’d bill. Saying that the IEPA should have known what Durkin meant and taught him how to write a bill to accomplish his goals is ridiculous. He’s the minority Leader, he should know how to write a bill that accomplishes what he wants accomplished.
    To the newest bill- it’s a good fix to the first bill. Should have been thought of or done a month ago when Berlin and Kwame were dealing with implementation of the other bill. Could have stopped a lot of headaches and also probably would have already done the special session. Meh live and learn


  21. - Just Me - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    re: J.B.’s update — okay, great….now we have to waste everyone’s time playing games. How lovely. Surely they know Durkin can’t schedule a legislative hearing.

    If I were Durkin I would call a House Republican-only hearing of the legislation for Monday.


  22. - anon2 - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    It’s refreshing to see GOP leadership calling for strict regulation of harmful chemicals,instead of doing the bidding of the chemical industry.


  23. - phenom_Anon - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    =The governors office and the IEPA were at the negotiating table from day one.=

    The bill was largely the result of their involvement. They were telling lawmakers this would shut Sterigenics down at the same time that they were negotiating with Sterigenics to reopen under the bill.


  24. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:41 pm:

    ===negotiating with Sterigenics to reopen under the bill.===

    If you have a company you want that company to stay open. Probably why the SA and AG are pushing for compliance as… the company is looking to comply, thus staying open.

    It’s tough to see where Sterigenics was going to close their doors voluntarily, or plain give up.


  25. - Phenomynous - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:56 pm:

    It’s becoming pretty clear that the Administration has no interest in shutting Sterigenics down. The Governor can call a special session specifically for this purpose…he has that explicit authority.

    Durkin, on the other hand, can’t call a session, schedule committee hearings, or set the stage for any debate on the bill.

    Additionally, anyone turning a blind eye to the fact that the Governor’s Office and the IEPA had a direct role in the drafting of this bill and it’s passage are being willingly ignorant. Don’t do that.


  26. - Naperthrill - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    A win for logic and science. EO will be restricted with the new controls to a point where it should no longer be a concern based on current science. The company can continue sterilizing medical equipment. EO is also emitted by cigarettes, camp fires, ripening fruit, exhaust and your own body FYI. The amount they emit will only increase your odds of cancer by about 5 in a million, over 70 years, if spent in their parking lot. I know this science isn’t as flashy or passion inducing as the political rhetoric of some but this is a win for those concerned about EO, whether they realize it or not


  27. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 4:29 pm:

    The original bill was a good bill from a regulatory standpoint.

    Unfortunately, the local folks don’t want regulation, they want a ban based on past activity. “Sterigenics cannot be trusted, and should not be allowed to reopen and put even more lives at risk.” That is a bill that has not been filed; I’m not sure what that would look like, but it hasn’t been filed.

    The new bill is a bad bill. Why not allow any unit of local gov’t to ban such a facility? Why not allow a city or county to ban any polluting industry they don’t feel comfortable with?

    Either EtO emissions are safe at some level or they are not. If EtO emissions are not safe at any level, facilities like Sterigenics should be banned. If they are safe at some level, set the level into law and require compliance. (Or was that already done last spring?)


  28. - Lo - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 4:35 pm:

    Naperthrill. No. Wrong. Past exposures of over 500,000 pounds of EtO means that any amount now is a game of Russian Roulette that this community doesnt deserve.
    This rewards corporate greed - a company that has outstayed its welcome and needs to go.


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