Articles Posted in Environmental Contamination

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Have you recently seen the news that the Vantage Specialty Chemicals facility in Gurnee, IL has been emitting a cancer causing chemical, called ethylene oxide, into the air for years? Are you questioning whether that toxin may have caused your cancer? Our experienced environmental cancer attorneys can help you answer that question. The Collins Law Firm is now investigating toxic tort lawsuits for people living or working within 1 mile of the Vantage Chemical Specialties plant at 3938 Porett Dr., in Gurnee, IL who have been diagnosed with one of the cancers linked to ethylene oxide exposure.

The Collins Law Firm Can Help You Investigate a Possible Cancer Lawsuit

We are a trusted, environmental personal injury law firm, and we have been representing clients diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals for years. We are unique among personal injury firms, because we have decades of experience dealing with the complex science that is a part of these “toxic tort” cancer cases. These lawsuits are not typical personal injury cases, like the car crashes or slip and falls, which most personal injury firms handle. They are an environmental lawsuit and a personal injury case blended into one complex case and require the right kind of scientific experts and legal experience.

Last week, Governor Rauner finally joined the group of elected officials calling for the shutdown of the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook. Officials had pressured Rauner to take action to protect the community after weeks of public outcry following the recent release of a report about cancer causing emissions coming from the plant.

Bruce_rauner_cropped-thumb-356x519-106443-thumb-250x364-106444-205x300That report, written by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, detailed a three decades long contamination of the Willowbrook area with a toxic carcinogen, ethylene oxide, by Sterigenics. The authors of the report came to the conclusion–after evaluating ethylene oxide testing done near the facility last May–that the emissions from Sterigenics posed “a public health hazard” and an elevated cancer risk for the community. In fact, the report estimated the cancer risk of exposed residents in the area to be 64 times the EPA’s acceptable lifetime risk.

Understandably, residents, many of whom already had cancer or who had lost a family member to cancer, were outraged. How could this have happened and how could any elected official allow it to continue happening?

Willowbrook has been in the news recently because of a federal government report which revealed that Sterigenics has been contaminating the community with a carcinogen known as ethylene oxide for decades, resulting in a significantly elevated cancer risk for nearby residents. This situation reminds me of some similar cases I was involved in: the Lockformer lawsuits in Lisle, IL.

My name is Shawn Collins. I’m the lawyer whose firm–The Collins Law Firm in Naperville– represented a community of families in those cases. In three separate cases, we successfully won from the polluter (Lockformer, in Lisle) $27 million in property damage; a generous settlement (the precise amount remains confidential) for a young woman who had contracted cancer from exposure to the chemical; tens of millions more for a fund for future cancer victims; and a safe, clean water supply for hundreds of area families.

The saddest but most meaningful case was the one for the young cancer victim. Her illness is why we are right to take so seriously toxic contamination in our communities. We don’t want devastating illness to happen to anyone we love.

Are you looking for an experienced attorney for your Willowbrook, IL cancer case? The Collins Law Firm is now investigating toxic tort lawsuits for people living or working within 2 miles of the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook, IL who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Collins Law Firm Can Help You Investigate a Possible Cancer Lawsuit

woman-3602245_1920-thumb-300x200-106626-thumb-300x200-106627-thumb-300x200-106632-300x200We are a trusted, environmental personal injury law firm, and we have been representing clients diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals for years. We are unique among personal injury firms, because we have decades of experience dealing with the complex science that is a part of these “toxic tort” cancer cases. These lawsuits are not typical personal injury cases, like the car crashes or slip and falls, which most personal injury firms handle. They are an environmental lawsuit and a personal injury case blended into one complex case and require the right kind of scientific experts and legal experience.

Hundreds of Willowbrook residents filled a standing-room-only meeting last night. They came to hear their government explain whether their health is in danger due to the ethylene oxide pollution that a local company, Sterigenics, has been belching into their neighborhood for the last 30 years.

Ethylene oxide is a nasty carcinogen. But the people of Willowbrook had no idea that such a chemical even existed, let alone that it had been in their neighborhood for decades. Until last week.

Sterigenics has known–probably since the 1980’s–that it was causing ethylene oxide pollution in Willowbrook. So did government, or at least it should have known. Its job was to know. Hard to say what is worse: the government knowing about the ethylene oxide pollution for many years and doing nothing to protect the people of Willowbrook, or the government not knowing anything about the problem until just now.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a new federal study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) – released just last week – that highlights a danger to Willowbrook residents who live near Sterigenics International, at 830 Midway Drive and 7775 S. Quincy St., in Willowbrook, IL. According to the report, the people living near this facility face a higher cancer risk from toxic air pollution than much of the rest of the country.

Why? Apparently, Sterigenics uses and stores a toxic gas called “ethylene oxide” to sterilize medical equipment, and has been releasing that cancer causing chemical into the air since at least 1995.

Ethylene oxide has been listed on the federal list of carcinogens as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” since 1985. In 2000, that listing was revised to “known to be a human carcinogen”. Finally, in 2016, the US EPA – after much delay – released a new assessment of the toxic gas that concluded that ethylene oxide was even more dangerous than originally thought.

Thumbnail image for EPA 2428323462_b1d7b53238_o.jpgAccording to a recent Washington Post article, the EPA has lost a tenth of its criminal investigators since Trump has been in office.

The reason this is good news to polluters is that the special agents in the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division are responsible for investigating the most serious criminal violations of the nation’s anti-pollution laws–violations which can result in prison time for those convicted.

The result is: less investigators, less referrals to the Justice Department for prosecution. In 2017, only 206 criminal cases were referred to the Justice Department compared to 228 during the previous 12 month period under President Obama. Not surprisingly, the number of referrals in 2018 is on pace to drop even lower.

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We keep hearing about big spender, Scott Pruitt, taking first class flights around the globe on the taxpayer’s dime. In fact, Politico reported in February that Pruitt spent over $90,000 last June on first class flights instead of coach, as required by federal regulation, because angry individuals were confronting him in airports and occasionally yelling profanities at him.

It appears, however, that when it comes to spending his own money, he is a bit cheaper.

Last week, ABC News revealed that EPA Chief Pruitt had been renting a Capitol Hill condo partly owned by lobbyist Vicki Hart, whose husband, J. Steven Hart, is president of Williams and Jensen, a firm who lobbies the EPA on behalf of polluters. The terms of the unconventional lease with the lobbyist allowed Pruitt to pay only for nights when he used the condo, at a rate of $50 a night. Apparently, Pruitt’s daughter and wife also stayed at the condo with Pruitt at times. Documents further show that Pruitt paid only $6100 to use the condo over about 6 months, which works out to approximately $1020 for about 20 nights use per month. With weekday rates at 3 star Capitol Hill hotels starting in the mid $200’s, or 2 bedroom apartment rentals running $3000 a month and up, this below-market deal would appear to be an in kind gift to the EPA administrator from a lobbyist…who lobbies the EPA.

Want to Pollute in Illinois? Go Ahead, Governor Rauner Won't Stop YouApparently unconcerned that Illinois is one of the top 10 states for industrial air and water pollution in the country, Governor Rauner’s administration is failing to police and penalize industrial polluters. Put more bluntly, Rauner and his EPA are giving polluters a pass.

The Illinois EPA, unlike the US EPA, cannot penalize polluters on its own. It can investigate and negotiate informally with companies, but if a deal cannot be reached, it has to refer the matter to the Illinois attorney general, who can file a civil or criminal complaint. This is the Illinois EPA’s most powerful enforcement tool.

Unfortunately, this is where Rauner’s administration is failing the state. The Illinois EPA has cut back sharply on referring cases to the state’s attorney general. According to a Chicago Tribune analysis of enforcement data, Rauner’s EPA has averaged only 80 referrals a year to the attorney general, compared to 189 for Blagojevich and 144 for Quinn during similar time periods. The result is that, since Rauner became governor in 2015, Illinois has sought only $6.1 million in penalties from polluters-about one-third the amount demanded during the first three years under his two predecessors. (And the amounts sought were paltry, even under previous governors.)

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the latest in a parade of dreadful environmental nominees is back.

In December, the Senate sent the nomination of Kathleen-Hartnett White–for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality–back to the White House for reconsideration, believing that Trump would submit someone else. Instead, Trump–in an obnoxious and lazy move–has booted her name right back to the Senate. Now it is up to the senators to put aside party politics and reject this disastrous nominee permanently.

Hartnett-White was an unqualified nominee from the start. A controversial Texas environmental regulator who has called carbon dioxide “the gas of life”, and denied that human activity is causing climate change, Hartnett-White’s initial confirmation hearing was a disaster. 1 She struggled to answer even basic scientific questions, prompting one senator to call her testimony “some of the most embarrassing” he’d ever seen, and later stating that she was unqualified and “didn’t understand high-school level scientific principles.” 2

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