socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has admitted they had overestimated how much ethylene oxide was being released from a facility in suburban Chicago, Illinois’ congressional Democrats are joining Dick Durbin in a push to tighten emission standards that experts say would affect nearly every industrial sector in the nation.
Joel Creswell, legislative assistant with Congressman Dan Lipinski’s office, said the bill Lipinski, Durbin, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster filed will tighten emission standards of ethylene oxide. It will also place a time limit of 30 days to notify the public that there had been a violation of the new, tighter standards.
This is in response to a report that Sterigenics in suburban Willowbrook was releasing high levels of the carcinogen.
“The EPA has been negligent in their duty to protect public health in the community,” Creswell told Willowbrook residents as he read a letter from Lipinski. “When Congress passed the Clean Air Act, they gave EPA broad discretion and responsibility to regulate air pollutants as they saw fit but they’re not doing their job in this case.”
The bill was filed as the EPA said its measurements of EO were flawed.
“We’ve learned a little bit about our analytical techniques and they’re not as good as we think they could be,” said Bill Wehrum, head of the EPA’s office of Air and Radiation, told members of the Willowbrook community last month.
The monitors on the stacks at Sterigenics mistakenly registered a chemical emitted by vehicle exhaust as ethylene oxide. This led to results showing elevated levels of ethylene oxide.
“We don’t have a lot of experience measuring for this particular chemical,” said Mike Koerber, deputy associate director of EPA office of Air Quality and Planning Standards. “There’s a potential interference issue.”
The EPA plans to retake samples from the Sterigenics facility.
Meanwhile, members of the Willowbrook community are demanding the closure of Sterigenics, blaming years of cancer stories on the facility.
Mark Denzler, president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, said the EPA should apologize to the residents of Willowbrook for misleading them into thinking that their illnesses were caused by Sterigenics.
“More [ethylene oxide] is released from cooking oil, the human body, from cigarette smoke, and from traffic congestion than the U.S. EPA allows,” he said.