Judge Approves Consent Order To Allow Sterigenics Plant To Reopen


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Sterigenics has won a round in court in its bid to reopen, but the battle by residents to keep the controversial facility in Willowbrook closed continues.A DuPage County Judge Paul Fullerton Friday approved a consent order that would allow Sterigenics to reopen, if it agrees to even stricter regulations than are called for in a recently passed state law regarding the emissions of cancer-causing ethylene oxide.

The company, which sterilizes medical equipment, was shut down in February over concerns about chemical emissions involving ethylene oxide. Under an agreement with the state, the facility was allowed to reopen after installing new emissions control systems.The latest court ruling will also force the company to abide by stricter emissions regulations and will have to apply for permits that require the approval of state regulators.   

The consent order, while calling for Sterigenics to capture 99.9 percent of ethylene oxide by-product, would still allow 0.2 percent, or a maximum of 85 pounds a year of ethylene oxide into the air.

The consent order was between Sterigenics and the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office.Lauren Kaeseberg of Stop Sterigenics expressed her group's anger over the agreement.

"It’s one thing to lose after a fair fight. It’s another thing to be sold out," Kaeseberg said. "Those lawyers up there for the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office sold us out. They sold out our community."

"Sterigenics should not be doing a high-five," he said. "No one should be concerned that these doors are opening ‘cause this fight will continue on."Durkin plans additional legislation that could give Willowbrook, a home rule community, the power to ban ethylene oxide within its borders. Durkin hopes the legislature will take up his proposal during the veto session at the end of October.In the meantime, Durkin tried to stem any thoughts that Sterigenics would be powering back up any time soon.

"Because of today’s ruling, Sterigenics is not opening up their door this afternoon, tomorrow, next week, or any of the near months ahead of them. They still have a permit process that they have to go through with the Illinois EPA," he said.

State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst said the court is placing a lot of trust in the Illinois EPA and its environmental expertise and that, "what the Illinois legislature is not going to tolerate is an Illinois EPA that’s going to go through a process of bureaucratic box-checking instead of actually doing their job to be a check on Sterigenics and make sure they’re doing it right keeping our people safe and if the Illinois EPA does it’s job, Sterigenics should never open."Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla reacted to the news in court saying, "I’m, obviously, profoundly disappointed it’s come to this. It appears to me at this time that the US EPA and the Illinois EPA are not here to protect us."Mayor Trilla said the whole Sterigenics controversy is costing his community. He said Willowbrook is trying to avoid "reputation blight."