Official Statement from State’s Attorney Bob Berlin Regarding Sterigenics Leaving Willowbrook
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin issued the following statement in reaction to Sterigenics U.S., LLC announcing plans to permanently close its Willowbrook facility.
“In 2018 my office partnerned with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and filed a lawsuit against Sterigenics in order to protect the residents of Willowbrook from the thousands of pounds of ethylene oxide Sterigenics legally emitted each year. This lawsuit was the first legal action undertaken to stop Sterigenics’ emissions of dangerous levels of ethylene oxide. The lawsuit was a difficult and complex claim and was filed despite the fact that Sterigenics had operated in compliance with the permit granted to them. This action provided time for the General Assembly to craft legislation addressing the larger issue of ethylene oxide emissions.”
“This spring, the Legislature, with nearly unanimous bipartisan support, passed the nation’s strictest limits on ethylene oxide emissions from sterilization facilities. The above lawsuit resulted in a court order preventing Sterigenics from reopening unless and until it could meet stringent new standards. As I have said, Sterigenics’ path to reopening was always going to be a long one. Sterigenics’ decision that the path is too long will no doubt provide welcome relief to the residents of Willowbrook and the surrounding communities. From day one I have stood by the residents of the affected communities and advocated for them with every tool at my disposal within the limits of my legal authority. I will continue this advocacy going forward.”
“That is why on October 10th I will attend the General Assembly’s public hearing to be held in Chicago regarding additional legislative efforts to further restrict the use of ethylene oxide in Illinois. There I will speak in support of those efforts and continue my advocacy to ensure that another Sterigenics can never threaten the health and safety of our communities.”
“The discussion about ethylene oxide emissions should not end with Sterigenics. Illinois has acted to significantly reduce ethylene oxide emissions, but there is an urgent need to implement restrictions throughout the country. All families deserve to have confidence that their air is safe to breathe. I urge federal regulators to look to Illinois as a model for protecting communities across this nation from the harmful effects of ethylene oxide emissions. To that end, I am calling on the U.S. EPA and Food and Drug Administration to seek sterilization alternatives that balance patient safety with protecting communities from hazardous chemical emissions.”