Judge gives Sterigenics OK to reopen Willowbrook plant

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WILLOWBROOK, Ill.  — A DuPage County judge signed a consent decree Friday, allowing the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook to reopen.

The plant has been closed since February, and there are more than 30 ongoing lawsuits claiming that ethylene oxide emissions from the plant have caused cancers and other health issues.

Back in July, Sterigenics reached an agreement with state and local officials to install equipment to reduce emissions from the process of sterilizing of medical equipment. The company said this new emissions control equipment captures at least 90% of harmful ethylene oxide emissions.

Affected residents, however, are not buying it.

"I share the community's grave disappointment that this consent order is going forward without any accountability for past transgressions by Sterigenics," said Rep. John Curran (D-Woodridge).

The communities against Sterigenics include Willowbrook, Burr Ridge, Darien and Hinsdale.

Sterigenics released the following statement:

"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."

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