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Sterigenics Faces More Lawsuits Alleging Health Problems Caused By Ethylene Oxide

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Sterigenics is facing more lawsuits, with two dozen cases filed just this week against the medical sterilization plant.

The law firm Romanucci & Blandin announced Thursday that there are now nearly 75 pending cases accusing Sterigenics and other responsible parties of causing leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, miscarriages, and other medical conditions. The plaintiffs claim their cancers stem from emissions of ethylene oxide used by the plant in Willowbrook.

Each case will be tried individually, the law firm said.

The Willlowbrook facility shut down in September after tough new state regulations and a series of reports by CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini.

The facility had been closed since February after air quality tests by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of ethylene oxide, or EtO. But Sterigenics until September had been fighting to reopen the plant.

Sterigenics had reached a court-enforced agreement with the state earlier this month to allow the plant to possibly reopen in the future, but only after clearing several hurdles. The plant would only have been allowed to resume operations with new equipment that would drastically reduce emissions to no more than 85 pounds per year, down from 4,600 pounds released in 2017.

While the company said the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had approved its permit to install "additional control measures" at the plant, the company said in September it had opted instead to leave Willowbrook, due to other obstacles.

The company had repeatedly denied its plant posed any danger to the community, and had dropped a lawsuit against the state after reaching a consent agreement with the Illinois Attorney General's office and DuPage County State's Attorney's office, but said even with that deal in place could not reach a constructive solution that would allow its Willowbrook plant to reopen.

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