Sterilization Plant In Waukegan: Next To Go?

Steve Miller
October 25, 2019 - 6:35 pm

ethylene oxide (iStock/Getty Images)

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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Waukegan plant releases at least some amount of cancer-causing ethylene oxide into the air, and residents near that plant have been vocal about their desire to see it close down, like the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook.

Now, dozens of employees have protested, saying: Don't leave us unemployed.

The plant is Medline in Waukegan. Employee Edgar Rivera on Friday said he needs his job. He’s fighting any effort by residents or lawmakers to close it.

"It would affect me personally by not being able to provide the quality of life that I have now,” said Rivera, citing great pay, benefits and overtime. “I wouldn't be able to provide my daughter with the life she has now."

We asked Rivera if he is concerned about his own exposure to ethylene oxide, in light of some residents who say they're convinced their cancer came from exposure to ethylene oxide.

"I can't say where they got the cancer from. But I can say, personally, I've never had any safety concerns working for Medline.

"I would not put myself at risk with a 2-year-old daughter, to not be here in the long run for her."

The Illinois EPA is expected to do more testing of emissions, but some residents have been unhappy with that agency's response so far.