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Sterigenics to close plant

Monday, Sep 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This will be cause for rejoicing in some circles…

* Press release…

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) released the following statement on the news of Sterigenics not re-opening their Willowbrook facility:

“Sterigenics got the message that we were never going to let them reopen their doors and poison our communities again.”

Earlier this year, Leader Durkin introduced the Matt Haller Act which created the strongest restrictions on ethylene oxide in the nation.

When the courts approved the consent decree on September 20 to allow Sterigenics to re-open, Leader Durkin introduced House Bill 3885 that would authorize 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.


* Press release…

Sen. Curran statement on Sterigenics leaving Willowbrook

“This is tremendous news for the people of Willowbrook and the surrounding communities. The risks involved with this facility re-opening were simply too great to the public health. This announcement from Sterigenics is the direct result of the tireless advocacy of Stop Sterigenics and other community organizations who have proven once again that when we all work together, we will not be stopped. Now it is our job to remain vigilant in continuing to protect the health of those we serve,” said State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove).

* Congressman Dan Lipinski…

Today’s news marks a victory for everyone who lives in the vicinity of Sterigenics!

This decision by Sterigenics to shut down their Willowbrook plant shows what can happen when public officials on all levels work together along with concerned citizens to protect the health and safety of our communities. This fight has been going on for more than a year and has taken a tremendous amount of work by scores of people, but it was worth it to protect families from further exposure to this dangerous cancer-causing agent. Although this particular fight is over, I will continue to press for a strong federal ethylene oxide standard to protect the health and safety of those who live near EtO-emitting facilities around the country.

* Congressman Bill Foster…

Sterigenics’ decision to permanently close its Willowbrook facility is best for all concerned. From the beginning, the company’s handling of this situation has been insufficiently respectful of the sincere concerns raised by people who live and work in Willowbrook and the surrounding communities. I will continue to work in Congress to make sure the EPA has the resources it needs to protect the health and well-being of all our communities.

* Important point in the Daily Herald story

The company also was unable to reach an agreement to renew the lease on the building it uses on Quincy Street in Willowbrook.

* U.S. Representative Sean Casten…

Illinoisans should have confidence that the air they are breathing is safe. Unfortunately, the actions of Sterigenics made it impossible for those who live and work in Willowbrook and the surrounding communities to have that peace of mind. For that reason, I support Sterigenics’ decision to close their Willowbrook facility. It is a credit to the hard work of the community for coming together to voice their opinion. Moving forward, I will continue to urge the U.S. EPA to do their job and communicate about the potential risks posed by ethylene oxide emissions, as well as the FDA to ensure a robust medical supply chain that will not endanger patient safety.

* Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst)…

The Matt Haller Act recognized that ethylene oxide sterilization involves a chemical process requiring the utmost care and trust to control emissions. Sterigenics’ behavior these many months destroyed that trust. We also had to repeatedly fight the Illinois EPA’s rubber-stamp approach and efforts to denigrate community members who just wanted truthful answers from the agency who by its very name is supposed to protect them. When legislators and community activists repeatedly found flaws in the scientific evidence; permit standards and other building requirements, the Administration and Illinois EPA repeatedly ignored them to favor Sterigenics. While today’s announcement can be viewed as a solid victory for residents of Willowbrook and surrounding communities, we are prepared to go further to make sure the Illinois EPA ends these lax oversight practices. The state as a whole will benefit from an Illinois EPA that does its job correctly to ensure that the air we breathe is safe.

* Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake)…

The closing of the Willowbrook Sterigenics facility is long overdue. Sterigenics finally saw the writing on the wall that we in Illinois place the health of our citizens over the profits of greedy corporations. I will always fight companies that look to harm our communities for their own financial gain, and today was a significant step in moving towards that goal.

With Sterigenics finally closed, we must now turn our attention to the two factories in Lake County that continue to poison our residents for their own profit. There is still more work to be done when it comes to keeping our air clean from toxic chemicals such as ethylene oxide, and going forward, companies need to prioritize the health of our communities over profits.

* Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council…

Companies that give people cancer should be put on notice that Illinois is not a welcoming business environment. While it does not cure those who have been made sick due to exposure to ethylene oxide, those living and raising families in the Willowbrook area will finally have peace of mind going forward now that Sterigenics is ceasing operations. This announcement marks a victory for this particular community and the surrounding areas, but more must be done to protect other communities still threatened by ethylene oxide emissions.

The Illinois General Assembly must take action to protect all communities across the state from this cancer-causing chemical. We are hopeful that with the continued leadership of Gov. JB Pritzker and those in the legislature, House Bill 3888 will pass during the upcoming veto session and be signed into law in short order.


  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    ===”unstable legislative and regulatory landscape.”===

    Nominated for Understatement of the Year.

  2. - MovingMyLab - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    SOOOO…..where will they re-locate? Chicago area? Outside of Chicago area?

  3. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    OK. But for them spewing nasty stuff into the air, the landscape (legislative, regulatory, and physical) might be more stable.

  4. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    I wonder what state offered bundles of tax incentives to get them to move.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    Funny how making it “everyone versus Sterigenics“ was the smart play to get the plant closed. Finger pointing seems so silly now. Ugh. What a wasted exercise when the politics was hanging up on Sterigenics all along.


    Oh… this ain’t all great news. Nope.

    There was never going to be a winner in this.

    The short term was achieved, now let’s see the real fallout and how this decision reverberates in the other circles.

  6. - City Zen - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    When you go down there to throw one final celebratory brick through their window, might I suggest lunch at the nearby and thoroughly excellent Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket.

  7. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    Wow, not poisoning people beats unregulated capitalism. I guess Jim Durkin really is a RINO… /s

  8. - Wensicia - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    ==where will they re-locate? Chicago area? Outside of Chicago area?==

    They also have a facility in Waukegan.

  9. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    ==might I suggest lunch at the nearby and thoroughly excellent Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket.==
    Does it taste better with or without the ethylene oxide topping?

  10. - ktkat1 - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    Great for the residents but concerning for the displaced workers…

  11. - Ok - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===”unstable legislative and regulatory landscape.”===

    Paging Bruce Rauner. lol

  12. - SAP - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    One less hot potato to pass around.

  13. - OOO - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    Only in Illinois can politicians almost break their own arms patting themselves on the back for running a company out of Illinois after they failed to adequately monitor and/or regulate the activities of the company for years, take no responsibility for same, then pass legislation to do same, and then object to the re-opening of the company under the rules they themselves established.

    OK, well maybe not only in Illinois, but I had to recap the whole sordid mess.

  14. - Elizabeth Neill - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    Is the real story that the landlord no longer wanted them? Who is the landlord? Will the fight continue in Waukegan? In Atlanta, GA?

  15. - bo - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    Someone must know more about this than I… My understanding is that they sterilized medical equipment there with the chemical. So while they’ve been closed- where does the equipment get sterilized? Another factory with the same thing?

  16. - Bertrum Cates - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    Huge feather in the cap for Durkin.

  17. - Jibba - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    I’m truly glad that Willowbrook residents no longer will face this hazard. However, I feel for the poor and minorities that will continue to breathe emissions in Waukegan because they do not have the political power to stop it. Same as it ever was.

    At least they have stronger emissions protections than they had before.

  18. - A guy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Success has many partners. Suspect you’ll hear from all of them: many for the first time. /s

  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 3:25 pm:

    ===Only in Illinois===

    Not a great start.

    ===well maybe not only in Illinois===


    To the rest;

    ===…then object to the re-opening of the company under the rules they themselves established.===

    Sterigenics Was never an honest actor in process, dropping press releases to head off the elected leaders and force hands they (Sterigenics) thought they had I we a barrel.

    If anything is learned here it’s the poorly played Durkin start was thwarted by rallying everyone in the end against a bad actor and neighbor in Sterigenics.

    To me, that ridiculous early press drop by Sterigenics did the most damage to goodwill than anything.

    ===I had to recap the whole sordid mess.===

    Here’s one way;

    Bad actor, acting badly, badly walks away.

    If they hired a PR group, yikes. If this was done in-house, maybe you need to look at yourselves at how poorly you got outflanked even with a head start. You gave Durkin the chance to rally folks by the brash release that caught everyone off guard.

  20. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 3:46 pm:

    Terrific work by the activists, and thanks to all of both political parties who stood up to this destructive pollution.

  21. - Froganon - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    …the unstable legislative and regulatory landscape in Illinois…. translation…we exposed so many of our neighbors to carcinogens that we could no longer buy off their leaders with blather about jobs… and we lost our lease. Now we’re taking our carcinogens to another, more compliant jurisdiction.

  22. - Anon but Social Knows me - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 4:50 pm:

    Fact check to commenters: Waukegan is NOT Sterigenics, but Medline. Also Medline already has a permit based on 100% capture and negative air pressure facilities - so don’t be quick to feel bad for “the poor” so to speak. Pray that Medline doesn’t embrace its geographic monopoly and jack up prices or slow supply chain on critical medical components when you and I need them.

  23. - Enviro - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 4:55 pm:

    …the unstable legislative and regulatory landscape in Illinois….

    I hope this means Sterigenics is taking their medical equipment sterilization facility which is linked to cancer to another state.

  24. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 8:07 pm:

    And now watch as Durkin, Curran, and the Willowbrook crowd disappear into the ether. They’ve got theirs, so blank everyone else, particularly (maybe especially) the non-white people being poisoned in Lake County. It’s sickening.

  25. - anon2 - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 8:44 pm:

    It’s true that until five minutes ago, Durkin and Curran did not exactly have the reputaton as green Republicans.

  26. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Monday, Sep 30, 19 @ 9:56 pm:

    NIMB. Emotion over reality but that’s what drives everything in politics. Just one more time correlation is not causation but accusation is still guilt in Illinois.

  27. - DougChicago - Tuesday, Oct 1, 19 @ 6:34 am:

    And there will be no complaining I am sure when sterilized surgical instruments are in short supply.

  28. - E - Tuesday, Oct 1, 19 @ 7:55 am:

    Thanks to the landlord looks like. Did anyone fighting this plant realize the company didn’t own the facility?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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