Council plans to stop pollution from Cottingley Crematorium


Emissions of Mercury could be cut from Cottingley Crematorium with the installation of new cremators (the units where cremations take place).

Cottingley Crematorium. Photo: Stephen Williamson
Cottingley Crematorium. Photo: Stephen Williamson

Cremators in crematoria up and down the country are independently tested for emissions each year. These tests check the level of mercury pollution caused when old, amalgam tooth fillings are vaporised; exposure to mercury can cause damage to the brain the nervous system and fertility. In 2011 and 2012 the cremators at Cottingley Crematorium failed these emission tests and required a re-test; in 2013 one cremator had to be re-tested and failed again. The Council is authorised to continue with operations on condition that it is actively working to replace these cremators in the near future.

On Wednesday (22 January 2014) the Council’s Executive Board will consider a report seeking approval to fund the replacement of cremators at Cottingley Crematorium with equipment capable of abating mercury emissions.

To keep potential disruption in service provision during the proposed work, which is scheduled to run from March to November, as low as possible, it is intended to keep one cremator operational throughout the contract period. If this is not entirely possible the Council will ensure all cremations take place at the crematorium where the service is held, with no transportation between sites.

The only alternative to replacing the cremators would be to divert a proportion of cremations to Rawdon could result in bereaved relatives and funeral corteges having to travel through the city centre.

The background to this is that in 2000 legislation was introduced which required at least 50% of mercury emissions from crematoria to be abated by 31 December 2012. This can be achieved by installing filtration plant to cremators to extract the mercury to reduce emissions. Failure to comply with the legislation is a breach in the operator’s license issued by the Government, and can result in the forced closure of non-compliant cremators.