State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) has released the following statement in response to the recent court ruling against Sterigenics in Willowbrook:
“In 2018-2019 a cancer cluster study, and alarmed residents, revealed that Sterigenics ethylene oxide emissions could be contributing to that cancer cluster. The Pritzker administration issued a temporary shutdown order. Unfortunately, Attorney General Kwame Raoul declined to fully defend it in court. Instead, he entered into a weak “Consent Order” with Sterigenics, and gave the Pritzker administration the right to let them reopen. Our brief opposing this action noted that in our legislative hearings, the accuracy of Sterigenics’ non-polluting test reports were suspect, such as one reporting no detected ethylene oxide from Sterigenics, while raw exit data displayed off-kilter baselines, a potential ethylene oxide signal, and several “unknown” compounds in the mix.
To tackle these problems, I was proud to have sponsored the Matt Haller Act. Getting it to pass necessitated negotiations amongst multiple agencies, a large bipartisan group of legislators, and the Governor’s office. The final Act ensured that companies using dangerous ethylene oxide could not blatantly release this chemical into the air to the detriment of our Illinois communities, and created some of the tightest standards in the nation. Between the provisions of the Act, dedicated local residents, and the hard work of the Village of Willowbrook, that Sterigenics facility never reopened.
But the damage still lingers. Recently, a jury got to see many more company documents than we ever had. They held Sterigenics responsible for harm, issuing a multi-million dollar damage award. Sterigenics has promised to appeal. Regardless, what happened in Willowbrook cannot be allowed to happen again. I hope that this verdict brings some relief to our Willowbrook residents and the surrounding communities, and that my legislation acts as a warning to other companies that seek to operate with reckless regard for their communities: don’t play games with other peoples’ lives. You will be stopped, and it will cost you.”