Articles Posted in Environmental Law

Sterigenics in west suburban Willowbrook, Illinois uses Ethyl Oxide to sterilize medical equipment and other products.  Residents of Du Page and Cook counties near Willowbrook are at a higher risk of cancers as a result of decades long exposure to Ethyl Oxide.  Sterigenics has been emitting Ethyl Oxide into the air since 1984.  The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) evaluated the potential health risks from emissions of Ethyl Oxide, a chemical the U.S.E.P.A. has found to be “carcinogenic to humans.”  The report released in August 2018 concluded “an elevated cancer risks exist for residents and off site workers in the Willowbrook community.”

The 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment shows that Willowbrook has a cancer risk of 300 in a million; higher than anywhere in Chicago area and 10 times higher than vast majority of census tracts in the U.S., where cancer risks are 30 in a million.  The health risks of Ethyl Oxide Exposure are significant.  U.S. National Cancer Institute report finds “exposure is highly irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract that induces nausea and vomiting and causes central nervous system depression.”  Chronic Ethyl Oxide exposure is associated with increased risks of:  1)Leukemia; 2) Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma; 3) Breast Cancer; 4) Stomach Cancer and 5) Pancreatic Cancer

Residents of Willowbrook area unknowingly lived with a higher cancer risk due to Ethyl Oxide emissions for over 30 years.  In selecting an attorney to represent you in a toxic tort case you should select an attorney with experience in trying toxic tort cases.  Several years ago I was the lead attorney in a lawsuit involving trichloroethylene (TCE) that was tried in Du Page County.  A copy of the verdict report reveals that the jury awarded $2,368,500.  While this case involved diminished property values, several companion cases were filed by my firm in federal court which involved personal injuries as a result of the higher risk of cancer due to exposure to TCE.

The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, 225 ILCS 732/1-1 et. seq. became law in Illinois on June 17, 2013. Environmentalists and landowners above the “New Albany Shale” initially hailed the law, but now that the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources has issued its draft rules, many of the law’s core provisions have been gutted. Specifically, The Act required compliance with “applicable federal, state and local laws.” This language has been omitted from the draft rules.

On April 22, 2014, in Dallas County, Texas, a jury returned a $2,925,000. verdict against Aruba Petroleum in favor of Bob and Lisa Parr who owned land that was effected by their fracking operations (case no. CC-11-01650-E). This case was significant because the defendant argued they were in compliance with the law. The verdict included compensation for loss of market value to their home and 40 acre property, as well as damages for physical pain and suffering and mental anguish. This result was obtained not through any state or federal statutory scheme, but rather the common law torts of trespass and nuisance. This was the first verdict in the U.S. regarding damages from fracking.

I have and currently am using these same common law torts, trespass and nuisance against corporations who have polluted the well water, land and air in Illinois. Fracking is just beginning in Illinois, particularly in the southern Illinois New Albany Shale. Various environmental problems are just beginning to emerge. Thoughtful people can disagree whether the risks of fracking outweigh the benefits, however, if it is your land, air, water, and family that are being negatively impacted, you may wish to know what legal rights you may have. Should you wish to discuss if you may have a legal remedy against an entity engaged in fracking that may be damaging to your property, your health, and quality of life, feel free to contact Edmund Scanlan toll free at 877-494-1309.

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