Since we learned of the federal report, village administrators and I have been working around the clock, conferencing with federal, state and local officials, to try to decipher what this report means. My biggest concern is the health and safety of the residents of Willowbrook and the people who work here.
I’m sure you’ve all read the report from the ASTDR – the headline on the report says there’s a “public health hazard” coming from emissions at Sterigenics. The report is incredibly difficult to understand. This process of trying to understand—and getting answers from these government agencies-- has been incredibly frustrating.
Here’s what we know:
Just an hour ago, the agency that wrote this report released a statement. It says quote “The emissions of ethylene oxide from the Sterigenics International, Inc. facility in Willowbrook, IL are not an immediate threat to public health and are not considered to be an emergency situation.
The statement goes on to say, quote ATSDR based this conclusion on estimated cancer risks that are calculated using conservative assumptions about a lifetime exposure to the highest levels of ethylene oxide that were measured in Willowbrook commercial and residential areas near the facility. The highest measured levels of ethylene oxide in those areas were about 1,000 times lower than levels associated with cancer risks in scientific studies of workers with industrial exposure to EtO. unquote
The US EPA also released a statement to us today. It says, quote, Across the country, U.S. EPA is taking steps to address emissions of ethylene oxide from some types of industrial facilities.
The EPA Statement also says quote - based on an examination of available data, U.S. EPA does not expect ethylene oxide levels in the air to be high enough to cause immediate harm to health. However, the 2014 NATA shows a number of areas could have elevated cancer risks from long-term (many years) ethylene oxide exposure. These potential risks are largely driven by an EPA risk value that was updated in late 2016. That is the gist of the E-P-A statement.
We met with Sterigenics this morning. They told us that in July, there had been recent changes to the facility to further reduce EtO emissions. The changes to the facility occurred after the completion of EPA monitoring that was examined by ATSDR as part of its assessment. Sterigenics representatives were cooperative and forthcoming with all of our questions. They pledged full cooperation. We asked them to provide much needed historical data for our task force to review.
The report calls on Sterigenics to take immediate action to reduce EtO emissions at this facility. With changes completed at the facility, Sterigenics says they are committed to follow up emission testing to demonstrate the reductions that will be achieved.and ambient air monitoring testing. We strongly encouraged Sterigenics to do this testing immediately.
We are bringing together Representatives from ASTDR, the US EPA and the IEPA for a public information session Wednesday night at 7 pm at Ashton Place. Sterigenics will also be there. All these agencies and Sterigenics are sending people to this information session specifically to answer people’s questions. Congressman Bill Foster, Representative Jim Durkin and State Senator John Curran will be there.
I mentioned our task force earlier and want to let you know we’ve enlisted the following people:
Chief Sam Molinaro, Tri-State Fire District
Renee Cipriano, the former head of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and one of the state’s leading experts in environmental law.
Paul Farber is a Willowbrook resident with more than 30 years experience in environmental engineering. He has his own consulting firm specializing in the development of emissions control options for compliance with state and federal regulations.
If necessary, we will hire our own toxicology expert. Trustee Gayle Neal is heading up our task force and we thank you Gayle for doing that. And Trustee Paul Oggerino is heading up the public forum logistics planned for Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 7 P.M. at Ashton Place.