WAUKEGAN, Ill. - An Illinois healthcare manufacturing company has temporarily closed because it couldn't meet new state standards for ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical.
Medline Industries in Waukegan is in the process of completing $10 million in upgrades designed to bring the plant into compliance with the state law, the Lake County News-Sun reported. The facility closed about a month ago.
The company expects to start full operations in a few weeks once the equipment is tested, Medline spokesman Jesse Greenberg said in a written statement.
The Lake County Health Department learned of the closure after it had started, said department spokeswoman Hannah Goering.
The closure means that air testing will be extended at least 30 additional days, Goering said. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is funding the testing, which is required for at least 30 days after Medline finishes installing its new equipment.
Goering said local officials decided not to wait for the the company's controls to be ready to begin testing because they wanted to collect as much information as possible, and the community requested monitoring.
The IEPA’s construction permit to Medline requires the building to be placed under negative pressure so air can't escape.
The permit also caps plant emissions at 150 pounds (68 kilograms) per year, which is far less than the thousands of pounds the facility had previously been releasing into the community, an IEPA spokesman has said.
Greenberg said the plant has not laid anyone off as a result of the closure and employees are continuing to be paid.
“Medline’s investment in best available technology was made to meet or exceed both the requirements in the Matt Haller Act and our new Illinois EPA permit. When finished, Medline will abate more than 99.9% of all EtO (ethylene oxide) used at our facility,” Greenberg said.