Lipinski Calls on U.S. EPA to Demonstrate That Emissions from Sterigenics Are Not a Public Health Threat

Print

“I haven’t seen any statements from the other side the isle, the Democrats, the higher ups.” -Dan Cronin DuPage County Board Chairman

Lipinski Calls on U.S. EPA to Demonstrate That Emissions from Sterigenics Are Not a Public Health Threat or Use Its Authority to Shut Down Plant

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take additional steps to address public health concerns stemming from emissions of ethylene oxide – a known carcinogen – from the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook.  In a new letter to Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the U.S. EPA, Lipinski calls for immediate action by the agency to demonstrate that the emissions of ethylene oxide from the plant are no longer a threat to public health or use its authority under Section 303 of the Clean Air Act to shut down the plant.

Since 1984, Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility has been using ethylene oxide to sterilize medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and food products.  Last month, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report stating that residents who live near the Sterigenics plant are at an increased risk of cancer and other health problems, including neurological, respiratory, and gastrointestinal effects, as a result of ethylene oxide emissions.  This report has justifiably shocked, angered, and led to additional questions from various stakeholders, including, most importantly, residents from the southwestern suburbs around the plant.

“Looking at the map showing the increased cancer risks faced by people who live around this plant not only in Willowbrook, but in Indian Head Park, Burr Ridge, Western Springs, Hinsdale, Darien, Countryside, La Grange, and Westmont is frightening,” stated Rep. Lipinski.  “Although Sterigenics has followed state and federal laws, we now know that these laws are insufficient to protect the public’s health.  This is an example of regulations not keeping up with science.

“That’s why I’m asking the EPA to take action now to assess the degree of the health risk and shut down the facility if necessary,” continued Lipinski.  “I am also asking that ethylene oxide monitors be installed that can detect harmful levels and warn the public in the future.  The health, safety, and overall quality of life of the large population of people that live, work, and go to school near Sterigenics must come first.”

In May of this year, the EPA conducted testing in the neighborhoods around the Sterigenics facility and found levels of ethylene oxide that posed an increased cancer risk.  The venting of small amounts of ethylene oxide was allowed under state and federal law, in part because the EPA’s estimate of the cancer-causing potential of the gas was out of date.  In 2016, the EPA updated its estimate, last updated in 1985, finding that ethylene oxide poses a 30 times greater cancer risk than previously thought.  In July, the company upgraded its ventilation system to end the practice of venting directly to the outside air.  They claim this change will reduce emissions by 90%.

EPA Sterigenics Lettter (09/24/1811:45 AMET )

Liz Chaplin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *