The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is seeking an order to shut down operations at Sotera Health‘s Sterigenics‘ Willowbrook, Ill.-based facilities that result in the emission of ethylene oxide, a highly carcinogenic chemical compound, according to a government release posted on Tuesday.
The agency is seeking an order that would prohibit operations resulting in such emissions until “a complete review of additional modeling and risk assessment is completed by US EPA or until US EPA otherwise assures the community that resumed operations would not present an elevated health risk,” according to the release.
In August, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services released a consultation letter suggesting that residents of Willowbrook and workers are at an increased risk of cancer and other health problems.
The EPA said that it provided data to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the August report, and that the ATSDR concluded that “an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility,” referencing a “30-fold increase in cancer potency.”
Illinois officials and community representatives met with the EPA late last month to discuss evaluation and testing at the facilities, according to the release, and while they said that progress was being made, they suggested that “the lack of certainty continues to raise public concern.” During the meeting, the EPA also referenced a 60-fold increase, double what had been previously reported, according to the release.
The EPA said that it referred enforcement action to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office based on the EPA and ATSDR’s findings.
Last month, a law firm filed a suit against Sterigenics over the same alleged emissions of ethylene oxide.