Mar 18, 2019
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered Sterigenics, a medical supply company, to shut down its sterilizers. The company has been releasing ethylene oxide into the neighborhood in Willowbrook, a working class suburb southwest of Chicago.
Ethylene oxide is a gas that can cause cancer at very low levels, particularly breast cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. Indeed, cancer levels in one neighborhood near the plant are nine times higher than in the rest of the population – making it one of the most polluted places in the country.
A trade group notes that there are other methods for sterilizing most of the equipment that Sterigenics produces. But, Sterigenics is tied up in a method that saves them money. This plant has been operating for decades – poisoning the 19,000 people who live within a mile of the plant.
To say that the authorities are acting too little and too late is an understatement, in the face of the harm that has been done to the population of the surrounding neighborhoods.