Burr Ridge Requests To Join Willowbrook, Darien In 'Stop Sterigenics' Lawsuit

Bernie Tafoya
May 09, 2019 - 12:57 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A group trying to keep a Willowbrook medical equipment sterilization company from resuming operations with a cancer-causing chemical is looking to Springfield for help. 

Meanwhile, in DuPage County Circuit Court, the village of Burr Ridge requested to be able to join Willowbrook and Darien in intervening in a lawsuit against the Sterigenics Company by the state of Illinois and DuPage County. 

Stop Sterigenics leader Lauren Kaeseberg wants the state to use legislation to keep Sterigenics from operating.

"It’s plop in the center of our lives and, Governor Pritzker, we are begging that you, yourself, come to Willowbrook. Come meet with our community and come and see for yourself," she said. "Sterigenics is in Willowbrook, but we have a much broader community. This has caused a regional crisis."

Andrew Acker, attorney for the village of Willowbrook, said even more villages may want to become part of the lawsuit.

"I think it’s appropriate that these other municipalities get involved, because to the extent that their citizens are also affected by this, then they should have a seat at the table," he said.

Mark Goldich, attorney for the village of Burr Ridge, said the village wanted to intervene in the suit because it's getting complaints from residents. He said there's "a matter of substantial concern."

In February, the Illinois EPA ordered Sterigenics to shut down operations using ethylene oxide, a known cancer-causer. Neringa Zymancius, of Stop Sterigenics said the change in residents’ health has been noticeable. 

"It’s been almost three months since they were shut down and I guarantee you, everybody here is finally feeling better. We are no longer getting headaches. We are no longer nauseous. We have more energy. This is proof that they are poisoning us," she said.

James Whaley
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

James Whaley said he and his wife closed on a house in Willowbrook last August, just before the Sterigenics issue surfaced in the media. By the end of March, his wife died of a rare form of cancer, a T-cell lymphoma outside and inside her heart. His wife had lived for 19 years after surviving breast cancer before the T-cell lymphoma surfaced.

"We just don’t know what effect our move to Willowbrook may have had for some long dormant malignancy to resurface," Whaley said. 

The sides are to get together in court in the next two months in the DuPage County courtroom of Judge Paul Fullerton.