• Feb 20, 2020, 08:13 AM

Ethylene Oxide Update #32: February 20, 2020

This update includes:

  • A report from the law firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins Ltd. that evaluates the Village’s authority to regulate and ban the chemical ethylene oxide.
  • The Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins report concludes that the Village does not have the authority under current law to impose additional regulations which would ban the use and/or emissions of ethylene oxide at a facility within its borders.
  • Gurnee approves additional air sampling.

The 1970 adoption of the Illinois Constitution included provisions to give certain powers to municipalities, known as “home rule authority”. Gurnee is home rule by virtue of its population. As a home rule municipality, Gurnee has additional powers to regulate functions within its borders.  The Village has and will continue to evaluate whether home rule authority would permit the Village to regulate and/or ban the use of ethylene oxide (EtO) within municipal borders.

In January 2019, Village of Gurnee Attorney Bryan Winter of Fuqua Winter Ltd. presented to the Village Board regarding the limitations of home rule authority in environmental matters. That presentation can be found here: https://youtu.be/f4Vz8bDHmiE?t=1721

In light of the passage of new state legislation concerning EtO emissions and in response to a community-led petition to urge Gurnee to exercise home rule authority and ban the emission of EtO, the Village sought an updated independent legal opinion concerning the Village’s authority to impose additional regulations. The Village engaged the law firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins (KTJ), which maintains a dedicated environmental law section and represents numerous municipalities in Illinois.  The firm also provided consultation to the Village of Willowbrook, Illinois, during its home rule referendum efforts (https://www.willowbrookil.org/DocumentCenter/View/1743/Home-Rule-101-by-KTJ-May-31-2019). Attorney Dennis G. Walsh of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins authored the legal report provided to the Village.   Mr. Walsh leads the environmental law group for the firm and serves as President of KTJ.

In the Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins report dated February 17, 2020, Attorney Walsh summarizes that the “…Village of Gurnee does not have the authority under current law to ban the use and/or emissions of the chemical ethylene oxide at a facility which is located within the boundaries of the Village.” The full analysis is available here: Klein Thorpe and Jenkins Report

As such, the Village of Gurnee will continue to work with State and Federal legislators and regulatory agencies to address and reduce all sources of EtO emissions in Lake County.

On Monday, February 17th, the Village approved an amended agreement with GHD to conduct an additional 30-days of ambient air sampling. This sampling is expected to begin in March but is dependent on whether Medline’s new emission controls are approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and if they meet permit standards as set forth in Public Act 101-0022.

To keep up to date on ethylene oxide in Lake County, visit www.gurnee.il.us/eto

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