• May 8, 2019, 14:04 PM

Ethylene Oxide: May 8, 2019 Update

Ethylene Oxide: May 8, 2019 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 Vantage Specialty, Inc. facility located at 3938 Porett Drive, Gurnee.  Mayor Kristina Kovarik remains in regular communication with county, state and federal officials to share the concerns of the community and to receive agency and legislative updates.  Mayor Kovarik has also had recent conversations directly with EPA Region 5 requesting an update on their activities and progress related to EtO studies, rulemaking and oversight. The following developments and communications have occurred since the last Village update provided on April 8, 2019:

Village of Gurnee/City of Waukegan/Lake County Health Department: On April 10, 2019, the Lake County Health Department received confirmation that the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will perform a health risk assessment on the impact of ethylene oxide emissions from Vantage Specialty, Inc. in Gurnee and Medline Industries, Inc. in Waukegan.  In order to conduct this assessment, air sampling must be conducted, and the results provided to ATSDR.  To formalize the air sampling process, an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) has been drafted between Lake County (through the Health Department,) Gurnee, and Waukegan.  The agreement states the parties will work together to conduct ambient air sampling. As the “Implementing Agency,” the Health Department will serve as the primary point of contact with the selected vendor, supervise work performed, verify quality assurance provisions and submit results to ATSDR, among other responsibilities.  In addition, Lake County has agreed to pay for one third of the sampling costs with the remaining share paid for by the respective communities.  The testing protocol was developed with input from the USEPA and will include multiple sampling canisters around each facility, as well as remote canister(s).  Samples will be taken over a 30-day period expected to begin in June.  Results will be forwarded to ATSDR in two separate reports, one for Gurnee/Vantage and one for Waukegan/Medline.  All three entities have agreed that Gurnee and Waukegan will present the IGA, as well as a recommended vendor and associated professional service agreement, to their respective governing boards on May 20th.

Vantage Specialty, Inc. (Vantage):  The installation of two dry scrubbers to further reduce stack emissions has been completed and both units are operational.  These additional dry scrubbers will work in conjunction with existing wet scrubbers.  Vantage is currently working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to develop a testing plan for stack emissions now that the additional scrubbers are online. This testing is planned for May 2019.  Emissions testing on the stack was lasted conducted in December 2016 and was supervised by the IEPA.    Vantage’s effort to reduce fugitive emissions through its Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program is ongoing.   As previously reported, Vantage 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 ambient air monitoring around the facility.  Plans to conduct this monitoring remain on-track for June 2019.  

Illinois General Assembly:  On February 15th, 2019 State Senator John Curran introduced three new bills in the 101st General Assembly related to ethylene oxide.  The following is a brief summary and status update on each bill:

  • SB1852
    Summary: 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. Mayor Kovarik submitted a witness slip in support of this bill. The bill passed the Senate on April 10th and moved to the House on April 11th.It proceeded through its first reading in the House and on April 30th was assigned to the Energy & Environmental Committee.
  • SB1853
    Summary: 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.  Mayor Kovarik submitted a witness slip in support of this bill. The bill received a number of amendments during the committee hearing and was re-referred to Assignments on March 22, 2019.
  • SB1854
    Summary: 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". Mayor Kovarik submitted a witness slip in support of this bill. The bill passed the Senate on April 10th and moved to the House on April 11th.It proceeded through its first reading in the House and on April 30th was assigned to the Energy & Environmental Committee.

Additionally, two bills in the House have had amendments introduced to address ethylene oxide. Those bills include:

  • HB1841 Amendment No. 1

    Summary: This amendment would introduce new standards under the Illinois Administrative Procedures Act for sterilization facilities emitting ethylene oxide. The first amendment was re-referred to the Rules Committee on April 12th.

  • HB0457 Amendments No. 1 and No. 4

Summary: Amends the Illinois Environmental Protection Act to regulate the use of sterilization operations and reduce sterilization emissions. The fourth amendment was referred to the Rules Committee on April 11th. The first amendment was re-referred to the Rules Committee on April 12th.

The process for how a bill becomes a law in Illinois can be viewed here: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lis/98bill_law.pdf

You can find additional information on ethylene oxide and follow all updates from the Village of Gurnee on the topic here: www.gurnee.il.us/EtO

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