BURR RIDGE, IL — Burr Ridge and Willowbrook are taking the first steps toward seeking compensation from the U.S. EPA, saying the agency withheld information vital to the safety of residents.

On Monday, the Burr Ridge Village board voted unanimously to join Willowbrook in filing a complaint with the EPA. If the villages get no satisfactory answer, then they plan to sue the agency.

Burr Ridge officials said the village spent more than $85,000 in the battle against the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook, which closed two years ago. Willowbrook spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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In April, the EPA’s inspector general released a report critical of the agency’s handling of Sterigenics. It alleged the agency withheld information from residents about ethylene oxide emissions from Sterigenics. Ethylene oxide is labeled a cancer-causing pollutant.

At Monday’s meeting, Burr Ridge Trustee Guy Franzese said he was disappointed that the EPA “failed us,” saying the agency deliberately withheld information from the public.

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“We need to send a valuable message to this government — that they won’t withhold information from the public,” he said.

Mayor Gary Grasso agreed.

“It’s the principle of the matter, not necessarily getting the money back,” he said.

He said he wanted to “add a little fuel to the fire.”

“We all recall we had a forum with the two villages in Burr Ridge at the Marriott, hosted by Burr Ridge. A U.S. EPA rep came to honestly answer all of our questions and had every opportunity to correct the record,” Grasso said. “They were physically here in Burr Ridge in our face and still didn’t tell us the truth.”

Under the law, the EPA has six months to respond to the villages’ complaint and could attempt to settle or resolve the matter, according to Burr Ridge documents. If the EPA fails to respond, it would be considered a denial of the claim. Then the villages would send a right-to-sue letter to the EPA, according to the documents.

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