Sterigenics Announces It Will Not Reopen In Willowbrook

WBBM Newsradio Staff
September 30, 2019 - 2:09 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Sterigenics abruptly announced Monday it is leaving Willowbrook, where residents have blamed health problems on the company’s emissions. 

Sterigenics says in a statement that the "unpredictable legislative and regulatory landscape in Illinois creates (an) uncertain operating environment," and so they are leaving.

The company, which sterilizes medical equipment, was shut down in February over concerns about chemical emissions involving ethylene oxide. Under an agreement with state regulators, the facility was allowed to reopen after installing new emissions-control systems -- a process that had been underway. The company has operated in Willowbrook since 1984.

Governor J.B. Pritzker's administration had sided with residents. "From shutting down their operations in February to enacting the nation's strongest law regulating ethylene oxide, we sent a clear, unified message that we take all possible steps to protect residents' health," he said on Twitter.

"This is a fantastic surprise,” Joanna Chlystek said.

She said she has lived less than a mile from the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook for eight years. This summer, she said, the baby girl she had been carrying died; she blames emissions from Sterigenics.

She is one of the leaders of Stop Sterigenics.

"We are very ecstatic they are leaving. We believe that the fight against ethylene oxide emissions has to continue in the state of Illinois,” she said.

Below is the full release from the company:

“Sterigenics appreciates that the State of Illinois has clearly acknowledged the company’s consistent record of regulatory compliance as well as the safety of the new controls we agreed to implement, and we made every effort to reach a constructive resolution. Unfortunately, inaccurate and unfounded claims regarding Sterigenics and the unstable legislative and regulatory landscape in Illinois have created an environment in which it is not prudent to maintain these critical sterilization operations in Willowbrook.

“Hospitals and patients around the United States and the world depend on Sterigenics for vital, sterilized medical products, and we cannot provide them with the certainty they require while operating safely in a state that will suspend operations of a business despite the company’s compliance with applicable rules and regulations. We are actively taking steps to ensure customer and patient needs continue to be met by our other facilities and are working with our employees throughout this transition. Sterigenics will continue to lead the way in industry safety by voluntarily implementing new controls at our other sterilization facilities. These controls will set a new standard for EO emissions and reaffirm our longstanding commitment to go beyond regulatory requirements.

“Sterigenics sterilizes and decontaminates products that protect over one million patients and consumers every day. Sterigenics understands and takes seriously our responsibility to sterilize these vital healthcare products while protecting employees and the communities in which we operate. We are proud to be one of several companies that safely sterilizes critical and lifesaving medical products. We continue to work with communities and regulators to establish the strongest possible control environment across our network of EO sterilization facilities and challenge our industry peers to join us in upgrading each of the more than 100 EO sterilization facilities in operation across the country.”