A standing-room-only crowd showed up for the latest court call in the People of the State of Illinois v. Sterigenics today. State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) appeared to defend the goals and intent of legislation the General Assembly enacted to combat the adverse effects of ethylene oxide. Representative Mazzochi spoke at a news conference on the DuPage County courthouse steps opposing the State of Illinois’ proposed consent decree with Sterigenics. The decree would allow the company’s medical device sterilization plant in Willowbrook to reopen without the company admitting any fault; and even though the Illinois EPA ordered the facility closed in February citing excessive emissions of ethylene oxide (EO), which is considered carcinogenic.
“The holes in this consent agreement are big enough for Sterigenics to drive a truck through,” Rep. Mazzochi said. “In the Matt Haller Act we passed this spring, legislators gave the regulators the tools they need to protect communities from unhealthy ethylene oxide emissions. I am disappointed Attorney General Kwame Raoul caved in to Sterigenics by signing this agreement without first addressing the serious public health and environmental safety that local families require; and with no meaningful notice or input to the stakeholders involved.” Sterigenics attorneys proposed to the court that once the court entered this consent decree, that would “moot” local municipalities’ efforts to stop Sterigenics pollution and fight nuisance claims. Mazzochi disagreed. “This fight is not over. The next step is to vigorously oppose the current proposed consent agreement in court.”
The Attorney General’s office withheld the terms of the agreement from state representatives until after it was signed. Rep. Mazzochi, an attorney, pointed to several loopholes that Sterigenics could use to reopen immediately, while avoiding the additional oversight and layers of environmental protection the latest legislation requires, which she declared “unacceptable.” Mazzochi also reiterated that “neither the Attorney General’s Office nor the Illinois EPA have released findings contradicting their original Seal Order claim that Sterigenics posed an environmental and public health threat. The Attorney General’s action signals his unwillingness to defend the original seal order finding that Sterigenics is an environmental health hazard, and to fight to keep our local residents safe.”
A court hearing on the state’s consent agreement to reopen Sterigenics is scheduled for Wednesday, July 24 at the DuPage County Courthouse. Rep. Mazzochi intends to file a “friend of the court” brief to discuss the legislative intent that prompted the passage of Senate Bill 1852, known as the Matt Haller Act, to prohibit the renewal of any permits for facilities that violate federal or state standards for ethylene oxide emissions; and which prohibits ethylene oxide use by facilities with egregious violations requiring a seal order.
For questions or more information, please call Representative Mazzochi’s office at (630) 852-8633.