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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Feb. 21, 2019

Trustees vote to join suit against Sterigenics

By Pamela Lannom
plannom@thehinsdalean.com

  The Hinsdale Village Board will join a lawsuit against Sterigenics in Willowbrook filed by the Illinois Attorney General and the DuPage County State’s Attorney in the fall.
  As part of the same unanimous vote Tuesday, trustees also agreed to hire GHD Services to conduct air sampling and Lucie Frasier Toxicology Consulting to interpret air sampling data in the event the plant reopens. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued a seal order Friday to halt operations there.
  “Earlier today Sterigenics was in federal court seeking, among other things, relief from that seal order,” Trustee Luke Stifflear said, adding that the case was continued until Wednesday morning. “We know that this matter is not concluded.”
  A group of residents was in Springfield lobbying legislators Tuesday and the village needs to stay vigilant, he added.
  “The items on the agenda tonight will put Hinsdale in a position to move very quickly in the event Sterigenics does reopen,” he said.
  Sterigenics uses ethylene oxide in its process to sterilize medical equipment.  In December 2016, the EPA Integrated Risk Information System changed its standards for ethylene oxide emissions, revising the descriptor from “probably carcinogenic to humans” to “carcinogenic to humans” and indicating a 30-fold increase in cancer potency.
  If the plant reopens, the village will conduct the air testing in conjunction with Hinsdale Township High School District, as one of the testing sites likely will be on district property, Stifflear said. The board agreed to spend up to $25,000 on air sampling. The consultant who will interpret the date charges $250 an hour. Both companies are out of Arkansas and both also have been retained by the villages of Willowbrook and Burr Ridge.
  “These actions before us this evening will allow the village staff to take precautions to ensure that we have data specific to Hinsdale and to ensure our village is safe,” Stifflear said before the vote.
  Irfan Ibrahim, a Bodin Street resident, said he appreciated the village taking these steps and recommended trustees form a citizens task force and hold a town hall meeting.
  “The air that moves does not seek a village, city or anyone’s political boundary,” he said. “It is affecting every single one of us regardless of who we are.”
  The Memorial Building is 3.4 miles away from Sterigenics.
Ibrahim said house is 2.4 miles away and some parts of Hinsdale sit within a mile of the facility.
  “We have to know what our residents are breathing,” he said.
  Trustees agreed they need more information before forming a task force or holding a meeting.
  Village President Tom Cauley opened the discussion by stating he wrote a letter to Sterigenics and the Illinois EPA on the village’s behalf in October, before learning that Sterigenics is a client of his law firm, Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. Since that time, he said he has recused himself from any matters related to Sterigenics. Stifflear, as chairman of the village’s zoning and public safety committee, has taken the lead.
  Stifflear noted that the village has no authority over the company as it lies in a neighboring municipality.


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