Hearing held on Sterigenics lawsuit as residents fight to permanently close plant

ByAlexis McAdams via WLS logo
Thursday, May 9, 2019
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The fight to permanently close a controversial factory headed back to court Thursday morning.

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.

RELATED: Higher rates of cancer detected near Sterigenics' Willowbrook facility, IDPH study finds

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.

Previous coverage:

Higher rates of cancer detected near Sterigenics' Willowbrook facility, IDPH study finds

RELATED: EPA tests shows rapid drop in cancer-causing chemicals following Willowbrook Sterigenics closure

RELATED: Judge denies Sterigenics temporary restraining order, Willowbrook facility remains closed

RELATED: Sterigenics files emergency motion to reopen Willowbrook facility

RELATED: Willowbrook Sterigenics plant shut down Friday night

RELATED: Lawmakers join call to stop Sterigenics from operating in Willowbrook

RELATED: Willowbrook residents call for Sterigenics shutdown after latest tests

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

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

RELATED: New EPA data reveals cancer-causing chemical still present near Sterigenics

RELATED: Sterigenics lawsuit goes to court Thursday, EPA holds packed forum in Willowbrook

RELATED: Sterigenics air quality measurements flawed, EPA says

RELATED: 2 Lake County medical manufacturing plants' toxic emissions cause concern

RELATED: Illinois AG files lawsuit against Sterigenics over alleged toxic air pollution violations

RELATED: Lisa Madigan: Rauner's office hid health dangers of Willowbrook Sterigenics plant for months

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

RELATED: EPA to test air quality after Sterigenics emissions concerns

RELATED: Andrea Thome believes carcinogenic emissions from Sterigenics in Willowbrook sickened family

RELATED: Willowbrook residents rally, demand gas-emitting company shut down

RELATED: Angry Willowbrook residents pack meeting on carcinogenic gas

RELATED: Willowbrook residents concerned about emission of carcinogenic gas from local company