• Feb 20, 2019, 14:24 PM

Ethylene Oxide: February 20th Update

The Village of Gurnee continues to work with county, state and federal officials to address concerns regarding the use of the chemical ethylene oxide (EtO), at the Vantage Specialty, Inc facility located at 3938 Porett Drive, Gurnee.  Mayor Kristina Kovarik remains in regular communication with state and federal officials to share the concerns of the community and to receive agency and legislative updates.  The following developments and communications have occurred since the last Village update provided on January 28, 2019:

State of Illinois General Assembly:  The January 28, 2019 Gurnee Village Board meeting included a presentation on ethylene oxide from multiple presenters including State Senator Melinda Bush.  At this meeting the Senator stated that she expected legislation to address ethylene oxide concerns to be introduced in the coming weeks.  On February 15, 2019 State Senator John Curran introduced three new bills in the 101st General Assembly related to ethylene oxide.  These bills include:

  • SB 1852: Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that in the event of an ethylene oxide leak a facility shall issue a notice to all affected property owners and local government within 2,500 feet of the leak site. Effective immediately.
  • SB1853: Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shall reevaluate the current air pollution operating permit of any facility emitting ethylene oxide and conduct a 90-day public hearing process on such permits. Provides that no air pollution operating permit shall be renewed if the facility is in violation of any federal or state standards or current studies pertaining to ethylene oxide. Provides that a facility emitting ethylene oxide at levels higher than federal or state standards shall immediately cease operations until the level of emissions are reduced below both federal and state standards. Effective immediately.
  • SB1854: Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that beginning on the effective date of the amendatory Act no facility shall have fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide above zero. Provides that each facility shall be subject to regular and frequent inspections and testing to ensure that no fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide exist. Provides that inspections shall be unannounced and conducted by a third-party chosen by the municipality in which the facility operates. Provides that each facility shall be subject to fence line ambient air testing, at random, once within every 90 to 120 days for a duration of 24-hour samples of no less than 6 consecutive days. Provides that the testing shall be conducted by a third-party chosen by the municipality in which the facility operates. Defines "fugitive emissions". Effective immediately.

The Village of Gurnee is monitoring each of these Senate Bills (SB), which can be found at www.ilga.gov.  Once these bills are assigned to a Committee and scheduled for a hearing, the Village encourages residents to file what are called “witness slips” to indicate their positions on these proposed Senate Bills.  As indicated during the Village Board meeting conducted on January 28, 2019, Mayor Kovarik on behalf of the Village will be filing witness slips in support of legislative measures to enact comprehensive regulations consistent with current health risk studies.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA):  The IEPA has confirmed the testing protocols proposed by Vantage are “independent” and will provide comprehensive information to assess health risks associated with the facility.  The IEPA confirmed that ambient air testing is predominately conducted by third-party firms hired by the company being tested.  Further, the credibility of such testing is thoroughly reviewed and vetted by the IEPA and US EPA to ensure accurate reporting to each agency and the public.  The IEPA and US EPA will review and approve the testing company and testing plan to ensure state and federal protocols are followed.

Also, Village staff has been in contact with the IEPA since the agency issued a “Seal Order” on February 15, 2019, pertaining to a sterilization facility located in Willowbrook, Illinois.  The IEPA reiterated that the Vantage facility located in Gurnee is not a sterilization facility and that the US EPA and IEPA will continue to participate in reviewing and evaluating the ambient air testing scheduled for the Vantage facility site. 

Vantage Specialty, Inc. (Vantage): In coordination with the US EPA Vantage has submitted revised historical emission estimates from 2010-2016.  For those years, Vantage had used conservative EPA estimation methods.  Vantage’s revised emission reports for 2010-2016 draw upon actual emissions testing data and is substantially lower than previously reported figures.  The US EPA is in receipt of the revised reports and is currently reviewing them.  Vantage’s plan to install a second (dry) scrubber to further reduce stack emissions remains on schedule for implementation by the end of March 2019.  Vantage’s effort to reduce fugitive emissions through its Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program is ongoing.  Vantage has confirmed it retained an environmental consultant to research and recommend an independent third-party firm specializing in ambient air quality and meteorological monitoring.  The independent third-party firm has developed a comprehensive testing plan to conduct a month-long perimeter testing program at the facility.  The plan is currently being finalized with input and consultation from the US EPA and IEPA. 

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