September 06, 2019

Duckworth, Durbin Statement on Sterigenics Reopening


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued the following joint statement today after a DuPage County Judge allowed the Willowbrook facility to reopen if it complies with state law and the consent order:

“It’s been more than a year since we learned Sterigenics was causing unacceptably high risks of cancer for the people of Willowbrook. Monitoring at this facility in the months that followed then revealed Sterigenics was emitting excessively high levels of a known carcinogen, ethylene oxide. We also learned that leadership at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Office, which is tasked with keeping Americans safe, directed civil servants not to inspect other facilities that use the chemical and may pose a similar risk.

“This sort of facility-by-facility approach is unacceptable and impractical—and it certainly will not protect all Illinoisans affected by ethylene oxide in the long-term. The EPA is under a court-ordered deadline to finalize comprehensive public health rules for all miscellaneous organic manufacturing facilities that emit this carcinogen nationwide, but we are concerned that they are yet again behind schedule in updating commercial sterilization standards. President Trump’s EPA must get to work and do its job because every community in Illinois—every community across the nation—deserves to be protected by their government.”