State Orders Shutdown of Sterigenics Plant in Willowbrook Amid Ethylene Oxide Fears

Sterigenics has been banned by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from using ethylene oxide at its sterilization plant in suburban Willowbrook. The move comes in response to community protests after federal authorities told residents they did not have enough evidence to stop the company from emitting the toxic chemical into neighborhoods that have some of the highest cancer risks in the nation.

“Sterigenics has failed our residents, and today’s action should put any other entity that threatens the health and safety of residents in Illinois on notice,” Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin told The Chicago Tribune on Friday.

Citing a federal study that said ethylene oxide is so toxic that even tiny concentrations pose serious health risks to community residents, Illinois EPA Director John Kim has prohibited the Oak Brook-based company from pumping ethylene oxide gas into massive chambers used to sterilize medical equipment, pharmaceutical drugs, spices and food.

In a statement responding to the order, Sterigenics called the Illinois EPA’s action “indefensible.” Unilaterally preventing a business that is operating in compliance with all state permits and regulations from carrying out its vital function sets a dangerous precedent.”

What is Ethylene Oxide?

Ethylene oxide has been on the federal government’s list of carcinogens since 1985. It is a highly reactive chemical effective for use as a sterilant for wide range of industrial applications. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), chronic exposure to ethylene oxide has been associated with the occurrence of:

  • Birth defects and increased risk of miscarriage
  • Breast cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer

Filing an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit

State Orders Shutdown of Sterigenics Plant in Willowbrook Amid Ethylene Oxide FearsResidents of Willowbrook or the immediate surrounding communities suffering with health issues related to ethylene oxide exposure from the Willowbrook Sterigenics’ facility may be entitled to recover damages for current and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

If you or a loved one have been impacted, call the respected personal injury law offices of Cooney & Conway toll free at 800-322-5573 for a free case evaluation with an experienced legal professional. You can also CLICK HERE or fill out the contact information form located on this page to have all your questions answered.

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Steve Koek is the Digital Marketing Manager at Cooney & Conway, and is responsible for the administration of the firm's web site and social media platforms. He can be reached at skoek@cooneyconway.com or through LinkedIn