State Senators John Curran and Melinda Bush, joined by Willowbrook residents, unveiled a package of legislation on Tuesday that seeks to address the public health crisis caused by Sterigenics and their release of ethylene oxide into surrounding communities. Curran’s announcement comes after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) issued a seal order against Sterigenics last week, which forced them to cease operations.
While praising the ILEPA’s decision as an important first step, Curran reiterated that lawmakers now need to ensure the proper policies and protections are in place to safeguard Willowbrook and all Illinois communities from the impact of this public health hazard.
“The legislation I’m filing in the Illinois Senate is an important step in providing greater safeguards to protect residents from the dangers of ethylene oxide, while at the same time giving residents a greater voice regarding the public health in their communities,” said Curran. “I want to thank the residents of Willowbrook who have helped lead this charge, and I look forward to working with them in advancing these measures in the state legislature.”
“We deserve to know if the air we breathe is safe. This legislation will not only protect the Willowbrook community, it will help protect residents who live near the two facilities in Lake County that are emitting ethylene oxide,” said Senator Melinda Bush. “I’ve called on the US EPA to take action and test emission levels in Lake County, and it’s well past time for them to do so.”
As introduced, Curran’s legislation would:
- Senate Bill 1852 requires:
- A facility to notify all affected property owners and local governments within 2,500 feet when an ethylene oxide leak has occurred.
- Senate Bill 1853 provides that:
- The EPA shall reevaluate the current CAAPP (Clean Air Act Permit Program) permit of any facility emitting ethylene oxide, and conduct a 90-day public hearing process on such permits.
- No permit shall be renewed if the facility is in violation of any federal or state standards or current studies pertaining to ethylene oxide.
- A facility emitting ethylene oxide at levels higher than federal or state standards must cease operations until the level of emissions are reduced below the federal and state standards.
- Senate Bill 1854 provides that:
- No facility shall have fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide above zero.
- Each facility is subject to regular and frequent inspections and testing to ensure that no fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide exist. Inspections shall be unannounced and conducted by a third party chosen by the municipality in which the facility operates.
- Each facility is subject to fence line ambient air testing, at random, once within every 90-120 days for a duration of 24-hr samples of no less than six consecutive days. Testing is done by a third party chosen by the municipality.
“Ensuring our residents have safe communities is my top priority and I will continue to stand up on their behalf in the Illinois Senate,” said Curran.