I appreciate Stop EtO's work on this issue and their recognition of Lake County's advocacy and leadership on protecting public health. As a breast cancer previvor and environmentalist, I understand how our polluted and toxic environment impacts our health. The issue of ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions from facilities in Lake County is very important to me, and I have been engaged on it since late 2018.
On the day I was elected Chair of the Board, I accompanied Congressman Brad Schneider on a tour of Medline and Sterigenics. I have personally met with Stop EtO and have attended numerous conference calls, meetings, open houses, and committee and board meetings in support of public health and greater transparency for our residents.
When the USEPA and IEPA refused to conduct testing – even after repeated calls from Senator Melinda Bush, US Representative Brad Schneider, and US Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth – Lake County Government stepped up and committed over $30,000 to pay for air monitoring. This hasn’t happened anywhere else in the state of Illinois.
In September 2019 I attended a press conference with Senator Bush and Mayor Cunningham of Waukegan to thank Senator Bush for passing Senate Bills 1852 and 1854, which put strict limits on cancer-causing ethylene oxide emissions, and to announce an IEPA town hall meeting. We demanded that the EPA pay for the second round of tests, which they finally agreed to conduct.
We also demanded transparency: In November 2018, the Lake County Health Department submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for ten years of emissions data from Sterigenics, Medline, and Vantage, along with copies of their permits and any violations they’ve had in the past decade.
I have spoken out publicly in my support of Senate Bills 1852 and 1854. I worked closely with our state delegation on that legislation, and I submitted a witness slip in support of HB 3888.
I will not stop pushing for the federal government and state government to take action against unsafe polluters. If these facilities cannot be operated safely without a threat to our communities, they should be closed immediately.
I am proud of my work and advocacy on this issue and I stand by my record.