WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- The fight to permanently close a controversial factory headed back to court Thursday morning.
Some say the Sterigencis plant in Willowbrook sends a cancer-causing chemical into the air and a lot of people who live around the facility say they have gotten sick.
The state claims in a lawsuit that the medical supply sterilization company is a serious risk to public health and the environment.
"Because of Sterigenics' activities and emissions of ethylene oxide, that they have created a public nuisance and that because of the public nuisance causing damage to the health safety and welfare of our communities, we are seeking a permanent injunction to close the plant," said attorney Andrew Acker.
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Residents like Lauren Kaseberg of the Stop Sterigenics group attended the status hearing to show the company they are not messing around.
"Sterigenics is at the middle of our lives and it needs to go and we will not stop until they are gone," Kaseberg said.
As of Thursday, three communities, Willowbrook, Darien and now Burr Ridge are all fighting to shut the facility down for good. Residents hope other communities get involved.
"This has caused a regional crisis," Kaseberg said. "It effects Darien, it affects Hinsdale, it affects Burr Ridge, it affects Westmont, it affects Western Springs, La Grange."
Sterigenics has been in Willowbrook since 1984 and was forced to shut down in February after testing showed dangerous levels of ethylene oxide in the air in a radius around the plant, which sits in the middle of a neighborhood.
Numerous residents have been diagnosed with cancer and other ailments in recent years and blame the cancers on the toxic chemicals which they say Sterigenics releases into the air.
But, the medical supply sterilization company says the results don't prove that there is a link between Sterigenics and cancer and says the company was operating well below permitted emission levels.
"Every single person in that court room today from our community knows someone that has cancer, has been effected by cancer themselves," Kaseberg said.
After the company's forced shutdown, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the levels of ETO had dropped drastically. Sterigenics says those results need further research and believes there are numerous inconsistencies in the report, but right now, the company must stay closed.
"This has caused a problem for us that we didn't sign up for," Kaseberg said.
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