As new reports show Illinois residents were exposed to a cancer-causing chemical, some suburban mayors are seeking a court order to shutdown Sterigenics despite a warning from the company that any disruption could delay medical procedures in Illinois and other states.
As new reports come out showing how much of a cancerous chemical Illinois residents were exposed to, some suburban mayors are seeking a court order to shutdown Sterigenics despite a warning from the company warns that any disruption could delay medical procedures in Illinois and other states.
Environmental Protection Agency testing from late last year showed higher levels of ethylene oxide than previously recorded. Because of this, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling a temporary judge-ordered shutdown of the Willowbrook facility.
Acting Burr Ridge Mayor Zach Mottl said Sterigenics appears to still be releasing the carcinogen, despite taking measures the company said would help.
Mottl said he advised his staff to work with administrators in Willowbrook and Darien to pressure officials to ask for the emergency injunction.
Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin have already sued Sterigenics to ban the company’s ethylene oxide emissions.
Officials from Sterigenics warned that an emergency shutdown of the facility would have consequences. Because the facility is one of the few places that sterilize medical instruments, the company said “a disruption in production at this facility would halt sterilization of critical medical products resulting in a significant negative impact on public health in Illinois and beyond.”
The company said the EPA’s reports show the area near Sterigenics is registering “extremely low” levels of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere and that it “doesn’t take very much of this material or any material to cause those kinds of levels in the air.”
Mark Biell, CEO of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, told state lawmakers in October that 2.1 million medical items sterilized with ethylene oxide are used every day including pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, vascular catheters, radiological signs.
“Over 50 percent of all medical devices and items are sterilized with ethylene oxide," he said. “If an ethylene oxide sterilization facility shuts down there is no excess capacity to fill in the gap. I want to repeat. There is no extra capacity to fill in the gap.”