Willowbrook Residents Voice Their Opinion On Sterigencis At Public Meeting

Mike Krauser
August 02, 2019 - 10:04 am



CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Illinois EPA gave the public an opportunity Thursday night to speak about the potential re-opening of the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook, which has been linked to cancers from the use of ethylene oxide. And it got an earful. 

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency called the meeting as an opportunity for the public to comment and voice concerns about Sterigenics and its medical sterilization plant.

At the hearing, the loudest voice was that of Colleen Haller.

“I am a wife and I’m the widow of Matt Haller," she said. "Sixteen months, I watched my husband slowly die from stomach cancer."

Matt Haller died in March at the age of 45 from stomach cancer that he attributed to ethylene oxide from the Sterigencis facility. He was the first person to sue Sterigenics over the emissions of the cancer-causing gas. 

“There are images I can never get out of my head, and that is watching your spouse take their last breath, because of this company, Sterigenics,” Haller said.

Another speaker, Katherine Howard spoke to CBS 2 outside the hearing. 

“I don’t want anybody else to spend 17 hours a day hooked up to a feeding tube like I have to be,” she said. “I don’t want anybody else to die from cancer like Matt Haller.”

Outside the meeting, CBS 2 reported protesters shouted “shut them down!” and "clean air...now!"

An agreement to allow Sterigenics to re-open with reduced emissions goes before a judge next month; and legislation that would effectively put the company out of business, banning the use of ethylene oxide has been introduced in Springfield.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has said he would sign it if it reaches his desk.