A community meeting and forum will be hosted in Willowbrook by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to field questions about the cancer-causing air emissions from the Sterigenics plant.
It's an opportunity for concerned residents to speak face-to-face with EPA officials.
“I’m hoping to learn what is going to be done to get this ethylene oxide out of the community,” Mallory Clark said.
In August the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the village that the toxic gas being emitted from Steregenics was a health hazard that posed an elevated risk to at least 19,000 residents living nearby. That revelation led to 11 lawsuits being filed against the company--including nine in federal court.
“Sterigenics has never accepted responsibility for what they’ve done," attorney Jeff Kroll said.
Thursday morning attorneys for plaintiffs who live in the area and have been affected by a slew of health affects fought to keep the cases from being handled by a single judge.
Antonio Romanucci is another attorney for some of the plaintiffs.
“These are individualized cases and Sterigenics claim that they can lump these into one basket and have one one judge decide all cases is flawed and it’s wrong," he said.
Last week the EPA said a flawed measurement may have inflated the actual levels of ethylene oxide being emitted.
In a statement Thursday Sterigenics said: the system has failed the citizens of Willowbrook by allowing flawed data measured against an illogical standard to be accepted as fact.
The real travesty has been the needless fear and worry about safety that good people of Willowbrook have had to wrongly endure.
Environmental health experts, like Dr. Susan Buchana, say the resulting elevated cancer risk is still a concern.
"I haven’t seen any evidence for why they think those levels might be inflated. I consider those levels that we re taken by the local level to be correct," she said.
It is that confusion over how potentially dangerous the emissions are that many are hoping to get answers to tonight. The panel discussions are expected to get underway following the open house at 7 p.m.