Would Crematory Pose a Hazard? Some Say It Might
Residents ask city leaders to halt plan for Jardine's to build crematorium on Pearl Road because of potential mercury emissions
A proposal by Jardine Funeral Home to build a crematory at its Pearl Road site is coming under closer scrutiny after residents have come forward with concerns about safety issues, including the amount of mercury that could be released into the air.
The mercury comes from fillings in people's teeth, and it's not a new issue -- funeral homes across the country have faced fights to build crematories in recent years.
"I've been approached by some residents to look into this," Ward 2 Councilman Matt Schonhut said. "Obviously, we have concerns if there are health risks."
But Jason Jardine said that while questions about emissions are valid, there is no reason to worry.
"The machines we're buying are state-of-the-art," he said. "They were designed to run in neighborhoods."
In fact, he said the equipment will emit less mercury than a dentist's office.
"There's absolutely no smoke, there's no odor," Jardine said.
Jardine's is asking the city to approve plans for a crematory on its property at 15822 Pearl Rd.
According to eHow.com, as little as one gram of vaporized mercury can make the air toxic, and some people have more than four grams worth of fillings in their mouths.
There is debate over how much mercury crematories emit -- the EPA says it's about 320 pounds a year, while activists maintain it's more like three tons.
Regardless, it pales in comparison to the 10,000 tons emitted by power plants.
Some of the other concerns residents are posing:
• If crematories are safe, why did Cleveland change its laws to only permit them in industrial areas?
• A crematory could ultimately make the school-owned land behind Jardine's unusable for any purpose, even if a proposed middle school isn't built there.
• It could lower property values for nearby residents and make it difficult for them to sell their homes.
• It could present a negative image for athletes and spectators on the nearby Strongsville High School playing fields.
City officials believed the crematory would need a variance because it lies too close to adjacent school property, but Jardine said that was a mistake and no variance is needed.
The project still needs one more permit from the EPA, aesthetic approval from the Architectural Review Board and then two OKs -- conditional use and site plan -- from the Planning Commission.
It is on the agenda for this Thursday, July 12.
It will likely not go before City Council, which last year -- at Jardine's request -- established a set of local regulations for crematories in Strongsville.
Jardine said that with up to 40 percent of Ohio families now choosing cremation, he wants to offer people the peace of mind that comes with keeping their loved ones close to home.
"Families will no longer have to worry about where their loved one is at a third-party setting," he said.
Schonhut said he is keeping an open mind while he looks into the issue.
"There's a lot we don't know yet," he said. "I haven't done enough research to form an opinion yet."