Lawmakers Weigh Concerns About Sterilization Plant

Bob Roberts
October 26, 2018 - 5:48 pm

WBBM Newsradio

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Two Illinois House committees on Friday heard emotionally charged testimony on the safety of ethylene oxide emissions from the Sterigenics facility in southwest suburban Willowbrook.

Mark Beal of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois said ethylene oxide is used for everything from water bottles to reduction of freezer burn and is the "gold standard" for sterilization of medical equipment.

He said half of all medical equipment sterilization is done with the chemical.

Gabriela Tajeda Rios and her family live half a block from Sterigenics. She said her daughters have coughing fits so severe that they vomit. 

Mayor Frank Trilla said authorities must determine what levels, if any, are safe for his community.

"It's your job to save us," he told the lawmakers.

Trilla said the EPA gave him one hour notice that a report would be issued stating residents of his community were at risk. He said it landed on his desk "like a dirty bomb."