• Jun 19, 2019, 11:31 AM

Ethylene Oxide: June 19th Update

Ethylene Oxide: June 19, 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 continued conversations with US EPA Region 5 requesting EtO studies, rulemaking and oversight. The following developments and communications have occurred since the last Village update provided on May 8, 2019:

Village of Gurnee/City of Waukegan/Lake County Health Department: On May 20th over thirty stakeholders came together to receive a report from US EPA Region 5 and IEPA related to EtO in Lake County.  The group included representatives from the US EPA, IEPA, Lake County, Lake County Health Department, Village of Gurnee, Gurnee Park District, Gurnee School Districts 56 & 121, Warren-Newport Public Library, City of Waukegan, and Senator Duckworth’s Office.  In addition, US Congressman Brad Schneider, State Senator Melinda Bush and State Representative Joyce Mason were present at the meeting.  The meeting included a report on emission reduction progress to date at Vantage Specialty, Inc. and Medline Industries, an explanation of the methodology behind determining monitoring locations, an update on anticipated rule-making and a question and answer session.

Also on May 20th the governing boards of both the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Lake County Health Department related to ambient air monitoring.  The communities also approved an agreement with GHD Services, Inc. to conduct ethylene oxide ambient air sampling.  Sampling began the week of June 3rd.  The general location of the samples has been determined in conjunction with the US EPA to ensure the results can be used to conduct a health risk assessment.  The data gathered from the monitoring will be forwarded to the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) which will perform a health risk assessment on the impact of ethylene oxide emissions from Vantage in Gurnee and Medline in Waukegan.  The ATSDR risk assessment will take 3 to 6 months to complete once ambient air sampling results have been provided. 

Further information on the sampling process can be found at:

Those interested in better understanding Air Toxic Assessments are encouraged to review the information available at:

On June 17th the Gurnee Village Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the IEPA.  Pursuant to the agreement, the IEPA will provide $62,500 in funding to be used to conduct additional ambient air sampling following the permitting and installation of additional controls and instrumentation at Vantage Specialty, Inc.  The Lake County Health Department has agreed to manage this process as well.  The additional funding will support at least 30 additional days of sampling by GHD Services, Inc., bringing the total number of days to over 60. 

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 work in conjunction with existing wet scrubbers.  Emissions testing on the stack to determine the increase in efficiency with the additional scrubbers on-line was performed on May 21st under IEPA supervision. This testing was for a continuous 24-hour period with results forthcoming.   Vantage’s effort to reduce fugitive emissions through its Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program is ongoing.  Vantage has standardized its internal testing schedule to monthly intervals on all potential leak points.  Testing was previously conducted on less frequent intervals based on the appurtenance-type.   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.  Vantage has selected GHD Service, Inc. to conduct the sampling and has established multiple sample sites around the facility, as well as remote sample sites.  GHD Service, Inc. is the same sample firm the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan have engaged.  While it has selected the same sampling firm, Vantage will send the results to a lab independent of the two labs Gurnee and Waukegan will use to analyze the samples.  Vantage has co-located next to two Village of Gurnee sample sites to allow the Village to validate the sample results from those Vantage canisters.

Illinois General Assembly:  Two bills are currently awaiting signature from the Office of the Governor. Once signed, these bills will further regulate the use of ethylene oxide in Illinois. Mayor Kovarik submitted witness slips for both bills on behalf of the Village of Gurnee.

The process for how a bill becomes a law in Illinois can be viewed here:

You can find additional information on ethylene oxide and follow all updates from the Village of Gurnee on the topic here: