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

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“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 )

DUCKWORTH, DURBIN AND FOSTER ASK EPA & STERIGENICS TO TEST AIR QUALITY

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

Duckworth, Durbin & Foster Ask EPA & Sterigenics to Test Air Quality in Willowbrook for Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Sep 25, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11) wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to Willowbrook-based Sterigenics asking them both to immediately conduct testing for local air quality for emissions of ethylene oxide, which has been found to cause cancer and is classified by the EPA as a known carcinogen. Sterigenics uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical products and equipment. The Members of Congress requested the EPA and Sterigenics make their results available to the general public and that the company also provide personal exposure tests to Willowbrook residents.

“A recent investigation on the air quality in Willowbrook has led to concerns that Sterigenics operations could be adversely affecting public health,” the Members of Congress wrote. The EPA must monitor the ambient air at Sterigenics and ensure that data is publicly accessible. This transparencywill help Willowbrook residents and workers at the facility determine whether a public health risk exists and go a long way in reassuring the community that the information being relayed to them is accurate and without bias.”

The Members of Congress also asked the EPA to conduct testing for ethylene oxide emissions at facilities across the country that use the dangerous chemical as well as explain why a report on the public health hazards and elevated cancer risks posed by Sterigenics’ ethylene oxide emissions was abruptly removed from the EPA’s website, noting how that has caused confusion, anxiety and hardship on the neighboring community. The report was produced by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the 2014 National Air Toxins Assessment map, residents of Willowbrook have the second highest risk of cancer of any community in the country.

A copy of the letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp is available online here. A copy of the letter to Sterigenics Senior Vice President Kathleen Hoffman is available online here.

Build A Better DuPage

Proud to be on the ballot with this amazing group of women.

We need more Democrats on the county board. Right now there are 17 Republicans and only 1 Democrat! Vote blue on November 6th.

#buildabetterdupage

CHAPLIN CALLS FOR THE TESTING OF PRIVATE WELLS SURROUNDING STERIGENICS

This past weekend I learned that in 2013 Sterigenics had a spill of ethylene glycol. I believe that DuPage County must be proactive in protecting the health of our citizens.

In 2005 after learning of the water contamination in Downers Grove Gardens the county paid for the testing of private wells throughout DuPage.

During this Tuesday’s Health and Human Service Committee I asked that the county, in conjunction with the health department, provide private well testing for the homes in the unincorporated area surrounding Sterigenics. I followed up my request with an email to Karen Ayala, Executive Director of the DuPage County Health Department, who responded immediately that her staff has begun to research the process. 

Because I have the knowledge and understanding of the amount of damage carcinogens such as ethylene oxide can cause to humans and the environment I have called for a ban of the use of ethylene oxide.

You can read more here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISRICT 2 BOARD MEMBERS WILL BE ADDED TO RESOLUTION CB-R-0875-18 – STERIGENICS

Below is the original copy of Resolution CB-R-0875-18. Resolution CB-R-0875-18 is the resolution regarding the operation of the Sterigenics Willowbrook Facility.

Sterigenics Corporate Headquarters is located in Oak Brook, which is in District 2. The resolution will be amended, on my recommendation, to include District 2 County Board Members.

I believe that it is important to send a message to Sterigenics that the representatives in their home district do not approve of their past safety history and that the health and safety of the people in Dupage is our priority.

This is how we #buildabetterdupage

 

 

CHAPLIN CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR A BAN OF ETHYLENE OXIDE

Last week I called for the ban of use of  ethylene oxide in DuPage County. During yesterday’s meeting of the DuPage County Board a resolution was passed that included revoking Sterigenics operating permit and for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of ethylene oxide at the facility until further health and environmental studies are completed. While the resolution is a good first step, it doesn’t go far enough. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen, there is no safe use and it is dangerous to humans, that is why I continue to call for and support a full ban of the use of ethylene oxide.

You can watch the meeting here.

You can read more here.

 

What Are DuPage County Lobbyists Doing? Why Are We Paying Them?

The day after I cast the lone no vote to spend $260,000 to retain three lobbying firms, Jake Griffin, writer for the Daily Herald, published a study that finds for every dollar DuPage County taxpayers send to Springfield, the state returns 31 cents. That’s the lowest rate of return among all 102 counties in Illinois.

I believe that the best lobbyists for the people of DuPage County are the elected officials. Kane County proves my point. Kane County Board members act as their own lobbyists and 76 cents comes back for every dollar they send to Springfield.

Cook County uses lobbyists and they see a much better return on their investment. Cook County receives 80 cents for every dollar they send down to Springfield.

Cook County and DuPage County share a lobbying firm, All-Circo. I questioned how All-Circo could possible represent the interest of DuPage County and Cook County. Looks like Cook County is getting the better deal.

What are our lobbyists doing? What are we paying them for?

 

 

In 2015 I sent the below referenced questions to DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin:

The county has failed to seek Request for Qualifications for the lobbyists. Why has the county not sought RFQ’s? Is not seeking RFQ’s considered best practice?

All Circo is DuPage County’s lead lobbyists. All Circo is also Cook County’s lead lobbyists. How can All Circo represent both the interests of DuPage County and Cook County?

How much revenue have the lobbyists brought to DuPage County in the past two years? What projects have the lobbyists secured for DuPage County in the past two years? What direct benefit have the lobbyists brought to the residents of DuPage County in the past two years?

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20180828/dupage-county-board-agrees-to-spend-260000-on-lobbyists

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20180829/study-suburbs-pay-more-than-what-they-get-back-from-state

https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=ppi_papers

https://lobbyist.cookcountyclerk.com/PublicSearch/Firm/Detail/18

 

 

CHAPLIN CALLS FOR A BAN ON THE USE OF ETHYLENE OXIDE IN DUPAGE COUNTY

Earlier this year I worked with the Legislative Committee and earned their support for a ban of trichloroethylene (TCE) and other toxic chemicals. You can read more here.

I am pleased that the 2018 DuPage County Federal Legislative Priorities included Environmental Health and Water Quality Issues both of which were based on my recommendations. You can read more here.

I was alarmed to read about Sterigenics International, Inc. use of ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide could be harmful to people. A report released by the EPA on Aug. 21 states that elevated risks of ethylene oxide could  pose a public health hazard for people living in the area. Ethylene oxide is toxic chemical and exposure can cause increase risk for certain cancers including leukemia, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and non hodgkin lymphoma.

After the  discovery in 2001 that our well water was contaminated with Trichloroethylene  (TCE) the EPA sent letters to 800 home owners in unincorporated Lisle Township telling us to immediately stop using our water. We could not drink or cook with our water. We could not bathe in our water. We were instructed to shower with a window open or exhaust fan on so we would breath in the toxic chemical. For two and a half years we lived in a home that had no value. We worried about the health of our children, our friends and neighbors. We attended meetings of all local government bodies, traveled to Springfield and worked with the U.S. EPA to find a safe water supply.

The residents of Willowbrook and the surrounding area should not have to wait two years for a solution. That is why I took action yesterday.

During yesterdays meeting of the DuPage County Environmental Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee I asked that each committee to support a ban on the use of ethylene oxide in DuPage County. I asked each committee to make a recommendation to the Legislative Committee to introduce legislation that would ban the use of ethylene oxide in DuPage County. I am hopeful that the committees will move forward with my recommendation.

You  can read more about Sterigenics here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION WATCHDOG JEAN KACZMAREK GIVES NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE ELECTION COMMISSION FOR ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDING SERIAL NUMBERS OF DATED VOTING MACHINES CAST OFF BY OTHER COUNTIES NOW IN DUPAGE

 

I share Jean Kaczmarek‘s concerns with the lack of transparency and the circumstances surrounding the settlement between the DuPage County Election Commission and Liberty Systems. What was the rush to settle with Liberty Systems? Why would the Election Commission accept used machines as part of the settlement? How can the people of DuPage County have confidence on election day with old equipment that other counties tossed away?

ACTION ALERT! Today I filed notice of intent to sue the DuPage County Election Commission for illegally withholding serial numbers of dated voting machines now in their possession which were cast off by other counties. Please read the news release which follows below. Please contact the Election Commissioners TODAY to request them to RELEASE THE SERIAL NUMBERS. Here is the contact information:

Cathy Ficker Terrill, Chairperson cterrill@dupageco.org
James Lowe jlowe@dupageco.org
John Boske john.boske@dupageco.org

Leave phone messages at: (630) 407-5600

Date: Sept. 4, 2018

DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION WATCHDOG JEAN KACZMAREK GIVES NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE ELECTION COMMISSION FOR ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDING SERIAL NUMBERS OF DATED VOTING MACHINES CAST OFF BY OTHER COUNTIES NOW IN DUPAGE

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn resident and 13-year election watchdog Jean Kaczmarek gave notice to the DuPage County Board of Election Commissioners today of her intent to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Commission for illegally withholding records about the 118 dated, cast-off voting machines acquired from the vendor they have “a lack of confidence” in – namely, Liberty Systems.

Kaczmarek’s June 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, denied by the County and currently on appeal to the Illinois Attorney General Office’s Public Access Counselor, seeks bulk serial numbers found on the outside of vintage, out-of-warranty Diebold optical scan machines.

Kaczmarek plans to use these serial numbers to track the origin of the antiquated, cast-off machines. These 15-year-old machines were provided to DuPage County under a settlement agreement among the Election Commission, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Liberty Systems, LLC, following DuPage’s nationally-publicized 2018 Primary Election snafu due to faulty ender cards provided by the vendor. A reported 167 machines were damaged when the ender cards printed on too-thick paper stock were fed into the machines during the closing out the polling places. Confusion and miscommunication followed. Consequently, election results in DuPage were delayed for hours.

The terms of the dubious settlement were not publicly discussed or voted on prior to the May 9th Election Commission Board meeting, yet the agreement had already been fully prepared. The agreement was omitted in the agenda packet. Contracted attorney, Pat Bond of Bond, Dickson & Assoc., who oversaw the settlement, said the Commission had a “lack of confidence” in Liberty Systems. In addition to all contracts with Liberty Systems ending, the vendor was to repair or replace the broken machines with “like kind” models. The Board also agreed to pay Liberty Systems $187,469.86 for supplying the Commission with ballots and paper poll books in the Primary.

“My radar signals whenever a government body handles a delicate situation too quickly and too quietly. This was no exception,” Kaczmarek explains. “What were they thinking accepting old equipment cast-off from other counties? Unacceptable. Surely, DuPage can do better.”

Some 57 machines were repaired by Liberty Systems, leaving roughly 110 machines purchased in 2001 broken beyond repair. In June, the vendor delivered 118 “like kind” machines to the Commission. Kaczmarek is seeking the serial numbers found on the outside of these 118 voting machines. It is unknown if the Commission plans to use the machines or any of their components in future elections.

“Where did these used voting machines come from?” asks Kaczmarek. “Were they purchased on eBay? From an e-cycling firm? Or were they cast off by other counties and traded in for new machines at Liberty Systems? Citizens deserve to know. It is clearly a matter of accountability.”

The Commission has denied Kaczmarek’s FOIA request, calling it a threat to election security and an impermissible disclosure of private information, but Kaczmarek’s lawyer, Daniel Massoglia, said that under the law, Kaczmarek — and ultimately the public — is entitled to the withheld records.

“FOIA stands for the principle that the people have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. There is no security threat in this information. If the Commission doesn’t reconsider its illegal denials, we will enforce the public’s right to know in court,” Massoglia stated.

“A lawsuit is a time-consuming and expensive exercise,” Massoglia adds. “Failing to honor the law now will leave DuPage County taxpayers on the hook.”

Kaczmarek, who has been scrutinizing the DuPage County Election Commission since 2005 and is the Democratic candidate for DuPage County Clerk, is taking action now because she sees it as her responsibility as a member of the public to shine light on whether the County plans to use dated, out-of-warranty machines in future elections.

“Why should citizens be expected to have confidence in old, used voting machines from a company the Commission says it has a lack of confidence in?” Kaczmarek questions.

 

DuPage County Referendum Questions-What You Need To Know

In an attempt to get Republican voters out to the polls for the November 6th General Election the DuPage County Board approved three non binding referendum questions to be place on the ballot.

Below are the questions that will appear on the ballot:

“Shall DuPage County oppose the General Assembly instituting a property tax increase equivalent to 1% of your home’s value to help retire state debt?”

“Shall DuPage County oppose the creation of a statewide Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) which would tax DuPage County citizens based upon the number of miles driven annually?”

“Shall DuPage County continue to dissolve and consolidate units of local government to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and increase accountability?”

I questioned the validity of the questions during the August 14th meeting of the DuPage County Board. While I agree with my colleagues that allowing our residents a voice via referendum is a good public policy and I voted yes, I would have rather had questions that pertained to DuPage County Government on the ballot. 

The 1% tax on 1% of your property value would be political suicide as reported by Rich Miller from Capital Fax, and it will almost certainly never come to fruition, why is it “important” to know whether DuPage County residents oppose it? You can read the story here.

House Resolution 766, introduced by Charles Meier, opposes the Vehicle Milage Tax. The DuPage County Board could take action right now and add it to our list of bills and resolutions we oppose. Why wait until November 6th to take action? You can read the Resolution here.

3. The final question is a no brainer “Do DuPage residents desire local government to be more accountable, efficient and cost-effective?” No harm in putting it on the ballot my only concern is that the question is very misleading. Have you seen a significant reduction in your property taxes?

If it were up to me I would put the below referenced questions on the ballot:

“DuPage County elected officials are the highest paid in the state. Should the residents of DuPage County support a 10 year salary freeze?”

“DuPage County residents pay for the pensions, health insurance and vehicles of the countywide elected officials. Should the countywide elected officials stop taking the taxpayer funded handouts and fund their own retirement via a 401k and pay their own healthcare and vehicle costs?”

“DuPage County Board routinely provides no-bid contracts to vendors who donate to their campaigns. Should the residents of DuPage County require that all county contracts be provided to the lowest bid offer via a multiple-vendor bidding procedure?”

A good friend of mine has a saying “one party rule serves the party not the people.”  I don’t think these questions will sway voters one way or the other. I believe the people of DuPage are smarter than that and understand when the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

NOTE: A NON BINDNG REFERENDUM means that the results are non binding, having no legal or binding force.