EPA responds to Willowbrook concerns with meeting
Residents of Willowbrook recently were reassured by representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency in light of reports that high levels of ethylene oxide (EO) were being leaked by Sterigenics from its plant in the municipality.
"We know there are emissions of ethylene oxide from the Sterigenics facility," said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of U.S. EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "We see our job as fully understanding what the situation is, assessing the risk and doing everything we can under the law to get to a place where we successfully address the issue."
Several months ago, EPA reports determining EO to be at dangerous levels were brought to light, according to a previous story in DuPage Policy Journal.
The EPA later said those results were skewed, according to the story.
Doug Sarno, an independent facilitator, also engaged with the community at the meeting.
"We recognize how important this information is to you and how concerned the community is about the risks surrounding this site," Sarno told the standing-room-only crowd. "We hope that this meeting creates a platform for information and providing information and linking us to the process . . .so you know you’re part of the process moving forward and you know the people involved."
Mayor Frank Trilla said all he wanted to know was if his people were safe.
Wehrum said while they didn't have all the answers to the questions the village would ask, they would be working diligently to get the answers.
A statement from Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-Western Springs), who was unable to attend the town hall meeting, was read at the meeting.
"It’s good that the EPA is having this meeting, as I asked them to a while ago," the statement read. "I want to thank all of the state and local officials that worked diligently with the EPA to make this happen.
"Since we first learned of the problem, I’ve been in contact with multiple agencies,"the statement continued. "I called on the EPA for assistance and to immediately update EO regulations."
Lipinski wrote that he had asked the EPA to make sure Sterigenics was safe or to shut it down.
"The EPA has been negligent in their duty to protect public health and the environment," Lipinski's statement read. "They’re not doing their job in this case, which is why I’m working hard to hold them accountable."
Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Westmont) read a statement for Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Burr Ridge), who could not attend due to a death in the family, that accused the EPA of providing conflicting information.
"We need accurate, clear-cut answers immediately from the US EPA about the real-world threat of EO to our communities," Durkin's statement said.
"It is critically important that we focus on getting the most accurate up-to-date information to get answers," Mazzochi, who is a scientist and a lawyer, added. "I have witnessed devastating health effects from EO in this district. I have reviewed test results. I have received heartbreaking letters from constituents."