Spike in cancer cases for people living near Sterigenics facility, state health officials say

An assessment released by state health officials shows there is a spike in cancer cases for people living near the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook.

About 19,000 people who live within one mile of the facility are calling the release of the assessment a victory, and lawmakers are calling it a bi-partisan issue, demanding the EPA step-in.

The assessment is significant because there have been suspicions that chemicals being emitted from the facility may have led to illnesses, likely cancer due to a dangerous, carcinogenic gas called ethylene oxide in the areas surrounding the facility.

Across nearly 40 pages, officials at the Illinois Department of Public Health are led to conclusions that there are a higher number of women diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma within 15 miles of the of the facility. Within 40 miles, the assessment reports an increased occurrence of breast cancer, as well as a slightly higher number of pediatric girls with lymphoma.

The numbers of prostate, female pancreatic and ovarian cancer patients also increased.

“This is a call to arms. … There is no excuse for re-opening this facility and subjecting the people living in this area to further cancer risk,” said U.S. Se. Dick Durbin.

Lawmakers stood shoulder to shoulder applauding the assessments release at a news conference Friday.

“My heart breaks for the families that have been burdened with the uncertainty and the stress and the anxiety of living next to this facility,” said DuPage County Chairman Daniel Cronin.

Stergenics released a statement call attention to what the company called "differences and inconsistencies," writing the assessments conclusions are “unreasonable.”

Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla applauded the release of the assessment, saying its proof the facility should stay closed.

The health department said further studies will be coming in the future.