• Sep 20, 2019, 11:07 AM

Ethylene Oxide Update: September 20, 2019

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.  The following developments and communications have occurred since the last formal Village update provided on August 14, 2019:

Village of Gurnee/City of Waukegan/Lake County Health Department: Senator Melinda Bush, in conjunction with Lake County, Lake County Health Department, City of Waukegan and Village of Gurnee, has announced a multi-agency informational town hall session on ethylene oxide will be held on Wednesday, October 2nd, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  The session will be held at the College of Lake County Auditorium A011.  The event is an opportunity for those in attendance to hear from the agencies responsible for regulating air quality.

Senator Bush has also announced additional State funding to support additional ambient air monitoring around the Medline and Vantage sites.  This is in addition to 30-days of monitoring sponsored by the Lake County Health Department, City of Waukegan and Village of Gurnee, as well as separate monitoring funded by the facilities themselves.  All of the monitoring to date has been conducted by GHD Services, Inc.  It is anticipated that GHD will conduct the additional monitoring in the future.  The results of all three air monitoring programs are available to the public via the Health Department’s website,

Vantage Specialty, Inc. (Vantage):  Vantage Specialty, Inc. has reported that pursuant to Public Act 101-0023 the company is in the process of providing the IEPA a plan for continuously collecting emissions information, as well as dispersion modeling.  This information is due at the end of the year.  Vantage installed two dry scrubbers in May of 2019 to further reduce stack emissions.  These additional dry scrubbers work in conjunction with existing wet scrubbers.  Emissions testing conducted under the supervision of the IEPA indicates the elimination of greater than 99.9% of the chemical ethylene oxide has occurred from stack emissions. 

Vantage further reported the implementation of enhanced Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) protocols to prevent fugitive emissions.  On-site systems (joints, pumps, flanges, pipes, etc.) are monitored with sophisticated equipment.  The enhanced protocols were developed in conjunction with the IEPA and US EPA.  Vantage has also agreed to perform additional air monitoring around its facility. This testing will be performed concurrently with testing funded by the IEPA and coordinated by the Lake County Health Department in partnership with the Village of Gurnee.

Illinois General Assembly:  Two new bills related to ethylene oxide have recently been introduced in the House.  As a reminder, Vantage Specialty, Inc. is NOT a sterilizer.

  • HB3885 – Introduced September 6, 2019 – Representative Durkin
  •  Summary: Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that nothing within provisions regarding the control of ethylene oxide sterilization sources shall limit the ability of a home rule unit of local government to adopt an ordinance that imposes additional operating restrictions upon or prohibits ethylene oxide sterilization operations of a facility that is located within the boundaries of the home rule unit of local government and is permitted to emit ethylene oxide.
  • HB3888 – Introduced September 13, 2019 – Representative Mayfield
  • Summary: Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides requirements for the prohibition of the conduct of ethylene oxide sterilization operations or other activities that emit ethylene oxide (and, for ethylene oxide sterilization sources, propylene oxide). Requires entities to submit a plan to the Environmental Protection Agency describing how they will continuously collect emissions information. Provides requirements for emissions monitoring and testing. Requires specified hospitals to submit a plan to the Agency describing how the hospital will phase out the emissions of ethylene oxide by an established deadline. Provides that when issuing permits to ethylene oxide sterilization sources, hospitals, and ethylene oxide emissions sources, the Agency shall include limitations on the amount of ethylene oxide that may be stored on-site to protect public health, public safety, and the environment. Requires storage of ethylene oxide in excess of 100 pounds to be underground. Provides that the unit of local government in which an ethylene oxide sterilization source, hospital, or ethylene oxide emissions source is located may regulate the storage and location of ethylene oxide in a manner that is more restrictive or matches the standards established by the Agency. Requires the Agency to set annual emissions limitations on ethylene oxide for all ethylene oxide emissions sources. Provides that, on and after January 1, 2022, the maximum cumulative emissions from any sum of ethylene oxide emissions sources located within 3 and one half miles of each other shall not exceed 35 pounds annually. Requires the Agency to conduct a comprehensive review of ethylene oxide use and emissions within the State and to submit its findings in a report to the General Assembly.

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: