A federal judge has ruled against the operator of a suburban Chicago plant that sterilizes medical instruments with a cancer-causing chemical, declining to reverse an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency decision to shut down its operation.
The state last week issued a seal order for Sterigenics U.S. in Willowbrook. The agency said the order was based on air sampling by local officials and the U.S. EPA that consistently found high outdoor ambient levels of ethylene oxide.
Sterigenics attorney Gerard Kelly on Wednesday told U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly the plant's shutdown is "causing a crisis" for its customers. He said medical supply companies will be in a lurch without Sterigenics' products because it will take them months to find a new place to get what they need.
Illinois EPA attorney Steve Sylvester called ethylene oxide a known human carcinogen. Sylvester added environmental data obtained Tuesday were alarming due to "fugitive emissions."
The judge's ruling Wednesday afternoon ruling means Sterigenics will remain temporarily shut down for now.