• Apr 8, 2019, 15:16 PM

Ethylene Oxide: April 8th Update

Ethylene Oxide: April 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 the 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.  The following developments and communications have occurred since the last Village update provided on March 11, 2019:

Lake County Health Department (LCHD):  On March 26, 2019 LCHD Executive Director Mark Pfister formally petitioned the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to perform a health risk assessment based on ambient EtO air quality sampling results expected to be collected in June of 2019.  Specifically, he request that ATSDR assess whether exposure to these ambient EtO conditions pose a public health hazard to the Lake County community.

The Village of Gurnee met with the Lake County Health Department and the City of Waukegan on April 3rd to discuss a preliminary testing plan for both Lake County sites. Based on recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the preliminary plan for Gurnee includes one vendor being hired to collect air quality samples from four sites near Vantage Specialty, Inc.  Samples will also be collected at a remote site to provide background levels of EtO.  Samples will be collected once every three days for one month. The number and placement of sampling sites, as well as the frequency and duration of sampling, will follow U.S. EPA protocol to assure that the results can be utilized for health risk assessment. It is anticipated that an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Gurnee and Lake County related to roles and cost sharing will be introduced during the first meeting in May.  In addition a contract for the ambient air monitoring is expected to be considered by Village of Gurnee in May.

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 is currently placed on the calendar for a 2nd Reading.
  • 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 is currently placed on the calendar for a 2nd Reading.

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

Vantage Specialty, Inc. (Vantage):  Installation of a second (dry) scrubber to further reduce stack emissions is nearing completion.  The second scrubber will be activated the week of April 15, 2019.  Follow-up emissions testing on the stack is planned for May 2019.  Emissions testing on the stack was lasted conducted in December 2016 and was supervised by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.    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 perimeter testing program at the facility.  It is expected this testing will commence in June 2019.  Vantage has also communicated the Fact Sheet and FAQ located on its website (http://www.vantagespecialties.com/content/gurnee-facility) was updated this past weekend.

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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