New law will enact the strictest restrictions on ethylene oxide emissions and facilities that use the chemical in production in the nation.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) and Senator John F. Curran (R-Western Springs), along with several community officials and activists, celebrated the Matt Haller Act becoming law in Illinois. This new law will enact the strictest restrictions on ethylene oxide emissions and facilities that use the chemical in production in the nation.
“Protecting Illinois residents from the threat of ethylene oxide was a bipartisan effort and I would like to thank everyone, including Governor Pritzker and his staff, who worked on this legislation that ensures proper protections are in place when it comes to this dangerous chemical,” Durkin said. “The tragic situation which unfolded in Willowbrook at the Sterigenics facility should have never happened. This law will help make sure that it never will again.”
Senate Bill 1852, known as the Matt Haller Act, will prohibit the renewal of any permits for facilities that violate federal or state standards for ethylene oxide emissions. The legislation will also prohibit new ethylene oxide medical sterilization facilities from opening within 10 miles of a school or park in counties with more than 50,000 residents and 15 miles in counties with less than 50,000 residents. Furthermore, it prohibits the use of ethylene oxide by any facility that has had egregious violations requiring a seal order.
“This legislation would not be possible without the grassroots support of the people in our communities surrounding Sterigenics. Their advocacy ensured this new law will be effective at protecting residents against EtO emissions and makes Illinois’ regulations the most comprehensive in the nation,” Chief Co-sponsor Rep. Deanne Mazzochi said. “I want to recognize Leader Durkin, Senator Curran, the Governor’s Office, and all the community members, like Matt Haller, who helped build support for this legislation. This law gets it right, and I hope the people who live and work in the surrounding communities finally have peace of mind.”
Another component of the legislation is to require a public notice and notice to schools, hospitals and local government officials in the event of any elevated EtO emissions levels as well as annual ambient air testing at all EtO emitting facilities.
“This new law creates the strongest ethylene oxide sterilization regulations in the nation,” said State Senator John Curran. “I want to thank Leader Durkin for his work in addressing the public health crisis in Willowbrook.”
Matt Haller, a 45-year-old Willowbrook resident, passed away earlier this year from stage four stomach cancer. Haller lived about a mile from the Sterigenics plant with his family and was an outspoken proponent for the closure of the facility.
“From the moment we found out in August about this health scare, we engaged federal, state and local officials and agencies to help us through our crisis,” said Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla. “We cannot erase the past, but we can protect the future. There are not enough words to describe how happy our Village and surrounding communities are for this legislation.”
Governor Pritzker signed SB 1852 on June 21, 2019.