FILE - EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Local officials say the federal government shutdown will not stop testing of facilities in Illinois for emissions of ethylene oxide but it could put the release of the data on hold.

Testing has revealed that medical supply company Sterigenics in suburban Willowbrook had been releasing high levels of the carcinogen into the surrounding community that’s now aiming to have the facility shut down.

When the government shutdown commenced last week, many in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were sent home.

Officials with the EPA called Willowbrook Mayor Tim Halik just before the shutdown and told him that some would stay on the job.

“There’s been select U.S. EPA Region 5 personnel that have been deemed as critical and will remain working on our testing program,” he said.

Much of the rest of the testing work falls to private contractors who will stay on the job despite the shutdown, but there won’t be any government workers to process and release the results to the public until the shutdown ends.

“Other U.S. EPA staff required to perform the quality control and the quality assurance on those test results as well as the faculty to publish those test results will be on furlough,” Halik said. “We’ll have no choice but to wait until the furlough is over until we know the results of those tests.”

Illinois EPA spokeswoman Rebecca Clark said in a statement that the U.S. EPA would be hampered but “Illinois EPA will continue working closely with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to support the pending litigation and overall efforts to address this matter.”

There is a planned release of the latest testing results in February that may be put on hold until the shutdown ends, Halik said.

Sterigenics and others in the business community that rely on EO for sterilization and other industrial processes say the agency testing was fatally flawed, leading to needless hysteria that the chemical was the cause of cancer in nearby residents.

Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for INN. Lauterbach has managed and produced shows for news/talk radio stations in both Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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