Lawmakers join call to stop Sterigenics from operating in Willowbrook

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some top Illinois lawmakers joined in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately force Sterigenics in Willowbrook to stop operating due to concerns about emissions of a cancer-causing chemical.

Sterigenics says it's operating well within regulatory limits, and the EPA said it's too early to draw conclusions about potential health risks. But the calls for action are only growing louder.

RELATED: Water tested for cancer-caused chemical near Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook

"We need to have them shut down. They might have a permit to operate, but they don't have a permit to create a public health crisis,' said Burr Ridge Acting Mayor Zach Mottl.

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A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers gathered at the Federal Building Chicago's Loop that houses offices for the EPA.

Earlier this week the EPA released results from its latest round of air quality monitoring around the Sterigenics plant. The data, from late November through much of December, showed higher-than-previously-recorded levels of the toxic chemical ethylene oxide, which Sterigenics uses for various purposes, including sterilizing medical equipment.

RELATED: Group releases 1984 EPA letter about cancer-causing chemical in Willowbrook

The EPA said testing continues, but several public officials said the time for waiting is over.

"It is now time for Sterigenics to operate as a good corporate citizen and immediately shut down their facility before the state or federal regulators do so," said State House Minority Leader Jim Durkin.

RELATED: Illinois EPA orders Sterigenics to cease operations in Willowbrook until safety review complete

"In the coming days, I'm going to be calling on Congress to conduct oversight, so we can hold the EPA accountable," said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL 3)

In a statement, Sterigenics said it "...has a proven record of operating safely and in compliance with applicable regulations ... Any action to shut down a business operating well within regulatory limits, based on incomplete data taken out of context, sets an extremely bad precedent."

The EPA said testing continues and it plans to do a full risk assessment which will be completed at some point this spring.
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