Judge approves reopening of Sterigenics, whose February closure caused device shortages

An Illinois judge approved a consent agreement Sept. 6 that could allow medical device sterilizer Sterigenics to reopen its Willowbrook, Ill. location, Medical Design & Outsourcing reported.

The facility was closed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in February after the agency determined it was releasing excessive emissions of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic chemical.

The consent agreement, approved by DuPage County Circuit Judge Paul Fullterton, was initially inked by the Illinois attorney general and Sterigenics in July, shortly after the state passed a new law regulating ethylene oxide emissions.

Under the agreement, Sterigenics must install additional emission control systems that allow the plant to meet the state's new standards.

The approval of the consent agreement does not mean Sterigenics will reopen right away or at all, according to a statement released by the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin. The Illinois EPA must approve the facility's upgrades before it is allowed to reopen.

The sudden closure of the Sterigenics plant, which sterilized millions of medical devices annually, caused some device shortages and a push by the FDA to come up with different methods to replace and improve ethylene oxide sterilization.

Sterigenics still faces more than 40 lawsuits filed by Willobrook residents who claim the facility's ethylene oxide emissions caused their illnesses.

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