More than 100 people rallied together in suburban Willowbrook on Thursday, one again calling for the permanent closure of the controversial Sterigenics medical sterilization plant.
The plant, closed since earlier this year due to emissions of a cancer-causing gas into the suburban community, could reopen later this year after a new deal reached with the Illinois Attorney General, and residents are calling for a renewed fight to keep the plant from reopening its doors.
“It’s terrible that we have this odorless, colorless poison that’s in our air,” Downers Grove resident Brenda Boettcher Smith said.
Residents in the community thought they had won the fight until the Illinois EPA came to a compromise with Sterigenics in July, announcing the company would reopen if it adhered to strict emissions standards.
Several communities, including Willowbrook, Darien, and Burr Ridge, joined together and filed a motion in court, delaying the new plan from being implemented.
“You are the EPA!” Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso said. “Please protect us!”
Now, the fate of Sterigenics is up to a judge and the state of Illinois, leaving dozens of people, including children, scared that the air around their homes could make them sick.
“I have a right to live,” Willowbrook resident Jana Conev said. “On my tombstone it should say ‘here lies Jana. Loved to sing,’ not ‘victim of Sterigenics.’”
Sterigenics did not return NBC 5’s request for comment on Thursday’s rally.