6 former teachers sue Sterigenics, claim chemical emissions caused their cancer

There are new troubling claims from six local teachers. They have filed a lawsuit saying Sterigenics left them with cancer after retirement.

The teachers taught for decades at Hinsdale South High School, which is less than a mile away from the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook.

The plant emitted thousands of pounds of the odorless and colorless gas known as ethylene oxide into  neighboring communities. The carcinogen is known to cause cancer.

"I planned my own funeral, I was to the point that I couldn't wake up,” said Carol Tufo.

Tufo was a guidance counselor at the high school for over 20 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and went through several treatments including eight rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions.

"I'd take a nap and couldn't wake up. I couldn't eat, I couldn't do anything,” she said.

Jeanne Conrad-DeBroeck taught at the school and was diagnosed in 2015. She had both breasts removed and reconstruction surgery.

"I am not only mad for me, but I really angry for my friends. There are people that I love from Hindsdale that have lost their lives,” Conrad-DeBroeck said.

Sterigenics faces numerous lawsuits, but insists the company is not responsible for causing cancer.

Shawn Collins is representing the six women. He says the company knew lives were at stake.

"The company knew before it opened its doors, that it would be releasing the chemical into the air and the chemical would go wherever the wind took it,” he said.

The Willowbrook plant closed in September, claiming issues with a lease. But across the country, more than 100 sterilizing plants still use the chemical that has been linked to cancer.